I Have Been Vindicated Over MTN Money Laundering ~ Sen. Dino Melaye

Controversial Senator representing Kogi West, Dino Melaye, says the recent fine placed on four banks by the Central Bank of Nigeria for allegedly aiding MTN in the illegal capital repatriation of $8.134 from Nigeria has vindicated him.

The apex bank during the week had ordered Africa’s telecoms giant, MTN and four other banks to “refund a total of $8.134billion moved out of the country” for breaching the country’s forex regulations.

The CBN also slammed a huge N5.8 billion fine on Citibank, Diamond Bank, Stanbic IBTC Nigeria and Standard Chartered Bank for allegedly aiding MTN in the illegal capital repatriation.

Recall that the senator had in 2016 alerted the National Assembly on how MTN repatriated about $12 billion out of the country over a 10-year period.

He accused the telecommunications firm of ‘Unscrupulous Violation of the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring and Miscellaneous) Act’ by repatriating about $13.9bn from Nigeria to other countries over a 10-year period.

The senator said the amount moved by MTN was about half of the nation’s forex reserves.

Melaye’s motion generated reactions from every quarter because it was less than a year after the telecoms giant was slammed a record fine of $5.2 billion for failing to deactivate unregistered sims. It was during the same period Africa’s largest economy was battling with the economic recession in the face of low crude oil price.

Reacting to the allegations, MTN Nigeria had then denied involvement in any wrongdoing. The telecommunication giant had said it only requested for CCIs for Foreign Capital that was imported into Nigeria, dividends were neither declared nor paid until the CCIs were issued and finalised.

Meanwhile, after much deliberation, the Nigerian senate exonerated the South Africa telecoms company, MTN Group Ltd’s Nigerian unit in 2017 and asked the Central Bank to sanction Stanbic IBTC “for improper documentation in respect of capital repatriation and loan repayments” on behalf of MTN.

The report caused rancour at the floor of the National Assembly as some senators did not understand why the report largely condemned the CBN and exonerated MTN wholly after the investigation.

Reacting to the latest development, Dino Melaye on Saturday, the pronouncement by the CBN had vindicated him.

“When I raised the issue in 2016, I was called all sorts of names. All figures and banks mentioned by me are exactly quoted by CBN. My prayer in that motion is exactly the resolution of CBN,” he said.

Isaac Okoroafor, CBN’s spokesperson, said the fine was necessary after allegations of remittance of foreign exchange with irregular certificates of capital importation issued on behalf of some offshore investors of MTN Nigeria Communications Limited and subsequent investigations carried out by the apex bank in March 2018
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