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MTN Nigeria tax bill case postponed yet again

MTN Nigeria tax bill case postponed yet again

While the operator settled with the Nigerian central bank last year, it is still in a $2 billion tax-related court battle with the country's Attorney General.

A judge adjourned a Lagos court case between MTN and Nigeria's attorney general until 26 March.

While MTN settled with the Nigerian central bank last year, its woes in Nigeria are not over yet. A Lagos judge yesterday postponed the telco's $2 billion tax-related court case with Nigeria's attorney general once again, this time to 26 March, according to Reuters.

The hearing was first scheduled for 8 November 2018, then moved to 3 December and then 7 February 2019. MTN was handed the tax bill in September; however, it previously said the attorney general had exceeded his powers in making the demand.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in August demanded MTN repatriate $8.1 billion (R11 billion) to Nigeria, which the bank said the company had sent abroad in breach of foreign exchange regulations, which MTN denied.

In December 2018, MTN agreed to make an almost $53 million payment to resolve the dispute. At the time, it said MTN Nigeria and the CBN had agreed it would pay a notional reversal amount of $52.6 million, without admission of liability. This was for a 2008 private placement remittance worth around $1 billion that the CBN found was based on certificates that did not have final approval.

However, this did not settle the issue with the Nigerian attorney general, which has also demanded $2 billion in taxes relating to the importation of foreign equipment and payments to foreign suppliers since 2008.

MTN went to court seeking to block the attorney general from taking further action regarding the order for back taxes.

"MTN Nigeria continues to maintain that its tax matters are up to date and no additional payment, as claimed by the AGF, is due, and consequently no provisions or contingent liabilities are being raised in the accounts of MTN Nigeria for the AGF back taxes claim," the company said in December.

Nigeria is MTN's biggest market, accounting for a third of the African telecoms heavyweight's annual core profit.

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