MTN Nigeria agreed to pay $53 million to settle a dispute with the country’s Central Bank over improperly repatriated funds, pared down from an original demand of $8.1 billion.

In a statement, MTN said it had provided Central Bank officials with additional documentation to satisfy concerns, although it will have to pay back $52.6 million for a $1 billion preference share placement in 2008, which had not gained the necessary approvals.

To satisfy the issue, MTN agreed to implement a notional reversal, at a net cost of CBN19.2 billion ($52.6 million), which it could pay without the admission of liability.

The Central Bank announced in August 2018 it had ordered MTN to pay back $8.1 billion, which it said had been taken out of the country between 2007 and 2015 illegally because the operator failed to gain the required approvals.

MTN strongly denied the allegations and said it would fight the demand.

“The CBN upon review of the additional documentation concluded that MTN Nigeria is no longer required to reverse the historical dividend payment made to MTN Nigeria shareholders,” read the statement.

Tax issue ongoing
The issue had a damaging effect on MTN’s share price and added to a number of issues the company has faced in Nigeria, which is its biggest market.

The settlement follows an agreement to pay a $1 billion fine for failing to cut off unregistered SIM cards in the country two years ago.

MTN is also facing a demand for $2 billion on back taxes, a matter which it confirmed is still ongoing.