MTN Nigeria Plc is still battling to exonerate itself from the $2 billion the Nigerian Federal Government said it owes in back taxes. The latest development on the case is that January 30th and 31st of 2020 have been set by a Federal Judge to hear the case.
The leading telecoms company has continued to deny any wrongdoing, claiming innocence of the tax demand made last year by Nigeria’s Attorney General, Abubakar Malami.
The backstory: Recall that Nairametrics reported in September 2018 that the office of Nigeria’s Attorney General demanded that MTN should pay up the accrued sum of $2 billion it owed in back taxes. The demand came at a time when the company was still trying to finish up with another cash settlement imposed by the government over the company’s alleged fraudulent SIM registration practices.
Around the same time, the telco was ordered by the Central Bank of Nigeria to bring back the sum of $8.1 billion which it remitted to South Africa illegally.
On the tax demand, the Attorney-General said MTN’s $2 billion tax debt was uncovered when his office investigated companies’ tax compliance in Nigeria. According to him, taxes span over a ten-year period and are related to the importation of foreign equipment into the country as well as payments to the suppliers of the said equipment.
MTN maintained that the demand is uncalled for, claiming that it settled all its tax obligations. The company had even asserted “it is both regrettable and disconcerting” that it is facing these issues despite previous efforts made in the past to resolve them.
Protracted litigation: Following the $2 billion demand, the telco took the case to court seeking the clear its name. Interestingly, the legal battle has persisted since last year and is now set to spill over to the new year.