US, UK Envoys Confirm Sanctions On MTN Frightened Investors
The Nigerian authorities and even some analysts have said the sanctions of telecom giant has had little effect on foreign investors’ confidence on the Nigerian economy.
But many disagree. Those who disagree now include the envoys of the United Kingdom and the United States of America in Nigeria who have confirmed that the problems being faced by Africa’s telecom giant have scared investors from their countries from Nigeria.
They said the sanction has in fact resulted in some of them pulling back and others withdrawing fresh offers and taking them to neighbouring countries.
Recall that things went south for MTN when the Central Bank of Nigeria in August ordered the mobile operator to refund to the Federal Government the sum of $8.1 billion that it allegedly repatriated to South Africa illegally.
The order came three years after the firm faced a record-breaking $5.2 billion fine for not disconnecting unregistered sim cards.
And as if that was not enough, the office of the Attorney general of the federation also asked the telecom giant to pay $2 billion in alleged unpaid taxes.
The two envoys spoke in Lagos on Thursday on the sideline of the 2018 International Investment Conference themed, ‘Promoting Investment, Connecting Business’, organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry as part of activities marking the 2018 Lagos International Trade Fair.
The Consul General, US High Commission, Mr John Bray, said the message the MTN experience sent was that people could make investments in Nigeria only for the rules of the game to be changed overnight.
“Apparently things are being resolved, but once you make an announcement like that (order to repatriate the funds), there are probably guys sitting back there and waiting to get on the plane and fly back to the JFK and say, I am not investing again,” he stated.
On her part, the British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Laure Beaufils, described the MTN saga as damaging, saying that investors were always conscious of such signals.
She said, “Of course, investors are interested in regulations, policies and strategies, but ultimately, they look at signals like that and I think that was damaging. I think most people in Nigeria recognise that that was very damaging.”
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