The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), the telecoms industry regulator, yesterday confirmed that MTN, on Thursday, paid additional N30 billion, being the third tranche payment of the N330 billion fine imposed on the telecoms company for refusal to deactivate 5.2 million unregistered SIM cards on its network.
Having paid N30 billion in December last year, after the initial deposit of N50 billion, making it N80 billon as at December last year, the current payment brings the total amount paid so far, to N110 billion, out of N330 billion.
Based on the enormity of the fine money, NCC, in collaboration with the federal government, spread the payment in six tranches, after the initial N50 billion was paid.
The first two tranches, which were December 2016 and March 2017 had been paid, which includes the recent payment. The other four tranches are March 31, 2018 (N55 billion); December 31, 2018 (N55 billion), March 31, 2019 (N55 billion) and May 31, 2019 (N55 billion).
Director, Public Affairs at NCC, Mr. Tony Ojobo, who confirmed the Thursday payment, said the money had been paid to NCC’ Treasury Single Account (TSA) with the Central Bank of Nigeria.
According to Ojobo, there was an agreement reached between NCC and MTN on the spread of payment of the fine money in tranches and MTN has kept to that agreement so far.
Head of Corporate Communications at MTN, Omasan Ogisi, also confirmed that another payment in respect to the fine, was recently paid.
NCC had in October 2015, fined MTN N1.04 trillion for its failure to disconnect 5.2 million improperly registered lines within the prescribed deadline. After much plea on the part of MTN management for a reduction in the fine, it was subsequently reduced by 25 per cent to N780 billion, an amount that MTN considered still inimical to the survival of its telecoms business.
MTN Nigeria subsequently sought judicial determination as a means of protecting the local ecosystems valued and supported by MTN’s business, but later withdrew the case and continued with its plea bargain, which eventually led to further reduction of the fine to N330 billion and the payment spread in six tranches.
MTN, which operates in 20 countries, had set aside $600 million last year to pay the fine.
Two months after making the first payment from the fine, MTN Group declared its first full-year loss, blaming it on the fine.
Negotiations on payment of the fine lasted eight months and saw both parties going in and out of the court
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