MTN Nigeria may get a key regulatory reprieve over the ₦1.04 trillion fine imposed on the mobile phone company by the Nigerian government.
The deal reached weekend will see MTN Nigeria, owned by South Africa’s MTN Group, not facing further sanction for its expected failure to meet payment deadline for the fines that expires today, Technology Times has leant.
The payment deadline expiring today will not attract further punitive sanction, and MTN Nigeria may be getting other concessions based on precedents set in similar matters, according to details being contemplated by Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Technology Times can confirm based on credible information just received today.
Technology Times has also learnt that NCC has been swayed by MTN Nigeria’s admission in a letter that “an infraction was actually committed”, and will not impose further sanctions that were supposed to have come into effect from today, if the mobile phone company fails to meet payment deadline.
NCC is not officially commenting on the matter as the regulatory agency, which imposed the fine for alleged SIM Registration “infractions” by MTN Nigeria, says it will soon make its decision known on the matter later today.
People conversant with details of talks between top government officials and a combined team of MTN Group’s top brass, and top management of its local subsidiary, MTN Nigeria, confirmed that the company has written a letter “admitting it was at fault and an infraction was committed.”
A senior official of NCC confirmed on condition of anonymity to Technology Times today citing the need to avoid prejudice to the official statement by the telecoms regulator, that a decision has been taken not to impose further punitive actions MTN “based on their letter, in which they have admitted that an infraction was committed.”
According to a top government official, NCC is reconsidering the matter in the wake of leniency being sought by the mobile phone company.
Under the plan, NCC will “will cite precedents in similar situations where other operators have received concessions on sanctions imposed by the Commission. So, there have been precedents in such matters”, our source says.
Mr Phuthuma Nhleko, Executive Chairman of MTN Group, who led top officials of the mobile phone company to a meeting at the Presidential Villa, the Nigerian seat of government and subsequently the NCC Headquarters in Abuja last Friday, may have succeeded in brokering the key concession deals, our source disclosed.
Under the deals reached between both parties, no new sanction will apply pending the conclusion of ongoing talks to resolve the matter as NCC was allegedly swayed by MTN’s letter, which not only admitted the alleged SIM Registration infraction, but went further to seek the regulator’s leniency on the hefty ₦1.04 trillion fine.
Buoyed by assurances it received from authorities in Nigeria, the Johannesburg-based MTN Group this morning advised the market of the key deals reached with the NCC not to pay the fines until “the negotiations have been concluded.”
According to a statement issued today by MTN Group, “Shareholders are advised that the Executive Chairman of the Company, Mr Phuthuma Nhleko, has personally met with the Nigerian authorities to continue the ongoing discussions with them regarding the fine of N200,000 for each unregistered subscriber (“the fine”), the equivalent of US$5.2 billion imposed on MTN Nigeria by the Nigerian Communications Commission (“NCC”). These discussions include matters of non-compliance and the remedial measures that may have to be adopted to address this.”
MTN Group’s statement, released in South Africa, which seems to confirm the deal with NCC, ahead of the regulator’s expected announcement later goes further to say that the Nigerian government will not be imposing any further sanctions until talks have been concluded by both parties.
“Although the Nigerian Communications Commission (“NCC”) set a deadline for payment of the fine by Monday, 16 November 2015, shareholders are advised that the Nigerian authorities have, without prejudice, agreed that the imposed fine will not be payable until the negotiations have been concluded”, said the mobile phone company.