Court grants CBN more time to resolve settlement discussions with MTN
A Lagos court on Wednesday adjourned the hearing over the $8.1 billion dispute between the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and MTN Nigeria until the 22nd of January.
Sitting at the Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Justice Saliu Saidu, after hearing submissions from learned counsel on both sides, granted the bank’s request that parties be allowed further time to pursue an out-of-court resolution.
“We are still making moves towards an out of court settlement,” a CBN lawyer told the court.
The Attorney General, listed as a co-defendant to the suit, agreed on the move to reach a resolution, a lawyer representing his office said in court, meaning that both co-defendants have now confirmed they are in settlement discussions.
The dispute is over the transfer of $8.1 billion of funds which Nigeria’s central bank said the company had sent abroad in breach of foreign-exchange regulations. MTN has consistently denied any wrongdoing.
In court filings, the company cited a 2016 Senate investigation where the CBN, in sworn testimony, said that the company complied with its foreign exchange regulations.
The bank’s Governor, Godwin Emefiele had told journalists in London in November and at October’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting that any resolution will not be anywhere close to the $8.1 billion it had initially asked from the company, fueling speculation as to what a possible settlement will look like and whether or not MTN actually committed an infraction.
Nigeria is MTN’s biggest market, serving 56 million people and accounting for a third of the MTN Group’s annual profit.