JUST when MTN thought its woes in Nigeria were over, a member of parliament dropped a bomb, claiming that — in collusion with certain banks — the mobile network operator had repatriated $14bn illegally over the past 10 years. MTN denied the allegations, of course. Given that it was handed a massive fine for not adhering to subscriber registration regulations, an assumption of innocence might be difficult to maintain. At the same time, however, the Nigerian government seems to be on a desperate scramble to find new revenue streams to bolster a treasury depleted by, among other factors, a disruption of oil production by insurgents and a persistently low oil price. It is widely speculated that it is targeting multinationals. But if one considers the amount involved, the question is whether MTN had that much cash in the first place. MTN Nigeria made about $750m profit attributable to MTN Group in 2015. In 2014, it was higher than that as the Nigerian naira was still stronger versus the ...

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