The Communication Minister, Adebayo Shittu has warned Nigeria not to scare away MTN. He said this as lawmakers investigate alleged illegal money transfers just three months after the government fined Africa’s biggest telecoms firm over $1 billion.
“Nobody will say that MTN is not important to Nigeria – we must encourage them, we must not scare them away from Nigeria,” Shittu told Reuters in an interview, conducted on Friday.
“The presumption is that they are innocent and we pray they remain innocent,” Shittu said, referring to the investigation. “They must stay.”
MTN, the largest mobile phone firm in Nigeria, threatened to pull out of the country last year during a dispute over unregistered SIM cards before the government agreed to reduce a settlement on the issue by nearly 70 percent to $1 billion, Reuters reports.
The company now faces another potentially hefty penalty if an investigation by Nigeria’s upper house of parliament finds evidence that MTN Group Ltd illegally transferred $13.9 billion out of the West African country between 2006 and 2016, as alleged.
MTN has said it did not break Nigeria’s currency transfer rules.