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Nigeria fines Diamond Bank, other top banks $16m over ‘illegal transfers’

Nigeria’s central bank has fined four leading banks a combined sum of $16m (£12.3m) after they were accused of helping the country’s largest mobile phone operator, MTN, to illegally transfer $8bn abroad, reports BBC Africa business correspondent Dami Ade-Odiachi.

MTN

The banks and MTN have been ordered to refund the money

The banks under fire are Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic IBTC, Citibank and Diamond Bank.

They were first investigated for breaching Nigeria’s foreign exchange rules in 2016 but were eventually cleared by the Senate, the upper house of parliament.

Nigeria’s laws allow for the repatriation of funds but with certain restrictions.

MTN has denied the allegations of illegally transferring money abroad.

Stanbic IBTC said in a statement that it was engaging the central bank over the issue. The others are yet to comment.

MTN is Africa’s largest phone company and was hit with a $5bn fine by Nigeria’s telecommunications regulator in 2015 for failing to comply with a government order to disconnect five million unregistered numbers. The fine was later cut to $1.7bn.

MTN has over 50 million Nigerian customers and the country accounts for over 30% of the company’s business.


Cover photo: The MTN Group hired a former U.S. attorney-general Eric Holder to challenge a U.S.$3.9 billion fine imposed by Nigeria’s Communications Commission for failing to disconnect unregistered users. Photo: All Africa

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