Nigeria’s communications minister said the country must not “scare away” MTN, amid an ongoing investigation into allegations the company illegally transferred $13.9 billion out of the country.
In an interview with Reuters, Adebayo Shittu reiterated the importance of MTN to Nigeria and said it is presumed the company is innocent: “[We] pray they remain innocent,” he told the news agency.
MTN is currently being probed over claims it illegally transferred the funds out of the country over a ten year period, accusations CEO Ferdi Moolman previously said were “completely unfounded and without merit”.
The complaint was raised just three months after the settlement of a long-running dispute with the Nigerian government regarding unregistered SIM cards, which resulted in a $1.04 billion fine spread over three years.
After news of the latest investigation broke, rumours emerged directors at MTN Group discussed the possibility of the company exiting the country due to “endless hostility” of the authorities.
The company, which is the largest telecoms provider in the country, had been due to list on the Nigerian stock market later this year and was working with the local stock exchange as recently as 13 January. However, earlier this week reports emerged in South Africa newspaper The Independent suggesting a listing could now be postponed until 2018.