MTN has paid N275bn SIM infraction fine – NCC
The Nigerian Communications (NCC) yesterday disclosed that MTN Nigeria has so far paid N275 billion to the Federal Government as part of the N330 billion imposed on the telco for failing to disconnect unregistered SIMs.
Described as a landmark sanction in the industry, the regulator had initially imposed N1.04 trillion fine on MTN for the infraction. That was, however, reduced to N330 billion after months of negotiations.
Part of the fallout of the negotiated terms of payment of the fine was the listing of MTN on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), and that was done last week.
According to NCC, based on the staggered payment arrangement, MTN now has a deadline of May 31 to pay the sixth and final tranche of the balance of N55 billion.
After six months of negotiation and re-negotiation over the fine which led to the reduction to N330 billion, it was agreed that MTN would pay a balance of N280 billion in six tranches. This was in addition to the “goodwill” payment of N50 billion earlier made by MTN to the government.
Specifically, MTN began the payment structure with the payment of N30 billion into NCC’s Treasury Single Account (TSA) with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) 30 days from the date of the agreement dated June 10, 2016.
Subsequently, MTN paid N30 billion on March 31, 2017; N55 billion on March 31, 2018; N55 billion on December 31, 2018 and on March 31, it paid N55 billion.
It will be recalled that the NCC, on October 20, 2015, imposed a fine of N1.04 trillion on MTN for infraction of the provision of the NCC Telephone Subscribers Registration Regulations 2011; for failure to disconnect 5.2 million improperly-registered Subscriber Identification Modules (SIM) lines within the prescribed deadline, because these lines had economic activities on them without proper registration.
In agreement reached by the parties involved in a way to avoid decision likely to cripple business interest of the operators the Commission regulates, it was also agreed that MTN shall apologise to Nigerians, subscribe to the compulsory observance of Code of Corporate Governance for Telecoms Industry as well as undertake immediate steps to ensure its listing on the NSE.
Speaking on the state of MTN fine payment at the valedictory service organised for the Minister of Communications, Barr. Adebayo Shittu in Abuja, the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC) of NCC, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta, said the Commission had succeeded in empowering Nigerians “to control, manage and own telecommunications companies in Nigeria by owning shares in MTN Nigeria.”
Danbatta explained that through the MTN’s listing on the NSE, the Commission had translated into action, an important function of the Commission, which is to promote local investment and ownership in the telecom sector.
According to him, “By MTN listing on the stock exchange, we have given reality to that important function of the Commission. Through this listing, Nigerians will be empowered to control, own and manage one of dominant telecommunications companies in the country.
“With MTN shares available in the capital market, Nigerians will buy shares and by purchasing the shares of MTN, they will be financially empowered and be socially transformed. We consider this a very important milestone in translating the function of the Commission into reality, as enshrined in the Nigerian Communications Act 2003.”