A man passes an MTN board in Lagos, Nigeria. Picture: AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI
A man passes an MTN board in Lagos, Nigeria. Picture: AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI

Lagos — MTN met a deadline to respond to a $2bn tax demand from Nigeria’s attorney-general, a Nigerian judge ruled on Tuesday, after state lawyers said the company had failed to do so.

Nigeria’s attorney-general handed MTN the $2bn demand for backdated taxes in September, but the company has said the claim is without merit and that the attorney-general exceeded his powers in making the demand.

Lawyers representing MTN and Nigeria’s attorney-general traded legal arguments at a court in the commercial capital Lagos on Tuesday over whether or not MTN responded to the tax bill within the three-month period stipulated under Nigerian law.

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The judge said MTN had responded in 19 days, and adjourned the case’s next hearing to June 26.

MTN is Africa’s biggest telecoms firm and Nigeria is its largest market, accounting for a third of its annual core profit. However, the country has proven to be problematic for the company in the past few years.

Meanwhile, MTN Nigeria said on Tuesday that it had registered to list 20.4-billion ordinary shares at 0.02 naira each with the country’s securities regulator. 

It said it had started negotiations with the stock exchange to complete the listing. It agreed to the listing as part of an earlier fine for failing to disconnect unregistered SIM cards in the west African state.

Reuters