(Adds share price, background)
LAGOS Oct 13 A committee of Nigerian lawmakers
has invited South Africa's MTN, Nigeria's trade
minister and four lenders to appear before them on Oct. 20 for
an "investigate hearing" on an allegation that MTN illegally
moved $14 billion out of the country.
The upper house of Nigeria's parliament last month agreed to
investigate whether Africa's biggest telecoms company MTN
wrongly transferred the money out of Nigeria between 2006 and
The allegations first appeared in a motion proposed by
Senator Dino Melaye to launch an investigation and come as
Nigeria struggles with its first recession in a generation and
chronic foreign currency shortages due to a slump in oil prices.
MTN and Nigeria's Trade Minister Okechukwu Elenemah have
denied any wrongdoing.
The four lenders invited to appear before the senate
committee on banking, insurance and other financial institutions
were Stanbic IBTC Bank, Standard Chartered Bank
, Citibank and Diamond Bank, the
committee's chairman, Rafiu Adebayo Ibrahim, said in a statement
Citi and Diamond Bank declined to comment. A spokesman for
Stanbic was unavailable and Standard Chartered said it would
cooperate fully with law enforcement agencies.
Shares in MTN extended losses on Thursday, falling 2.3
percent to 110.67 rand, partly on news of the hearing.
The Senate move is likely to raise tensions between Nigeria
and MTN just months after the Johannesburg-based firm agreed to
pay a greatly reduced fine of 330 billion naira ($1.1 billion)
to end a long-running dispute over the size of the penalty
imposed for MTN's failure to disconnect users of unregistered
SIM cards from its Nigerian network, with the total fine
originally set at $5.9 billion.
MTN is the largest mobile network operator in Nigeria, which
is the continent's biggest economy and accounts for a third of
MTN's revenue. The company had threatened to pull out of the
country during the SIM card row, before the fine was reduced.
($1 = 304.0000 naira)
(Reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Susan Fenton, Greg