MTN pays $98m tranche of Nigerian fine, with more than $1.6bn to go
Lagos — Telecoms giant MTN has paid nearly $100m of a $1.7bn fine for failing to disconnect unregistered SIM cards in Nigeria, officials said on Friday. "MTN has paid 30-billion naira ($98m, €92m) as part of the fine," Tony Ojobo, spokesman for the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) told AFP.
"The payment is in furtherance of the agreed timetable for payment of the total fine." He said MTN had already paid 80-billion naira of the total fine of 330-billion naira. Ojobo said MTN was expected to pay the next tranche "based on the payment schedule agreed by the two parties".
An MTN source in Nigeria confirmed the payment. "Yes, we have made another payment. It’s in fulfilment of our financial obligations to the NCC regarding the fine," he said, without giving details.
MTN was initially hit with a $5.2bn fine in October 2015 for failing to cut off 5.1-million unregistered SIM cards, as requested by the Nigerian government. Security was cited as being behind the move, over fears that radical Boko Haram Islamists were using unregistered SIMs to plan and execute attacks in the remote north-east of the country.
In December 2015, the fine was reduced to $3.4bn, then cut further in June last year to $1.7bn, which, at the time, was equivalent to 330-billion naira. The payment is staggered over three years.
The Johannesburg-based firm, which is the largest mobile provider in Nigeria, threatened to pull out of the country during the SIM-card row, before the fine was reduced.