Nigeria demands $2bn ‘tax arrears’ from under-pressure MTN

Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation, has written to MTN Nigeria  demanding a payment of $2 billion in tax arrears, TheCable understands.

The arrears cover import duties, VAT and withholding taxes on foreign imports/payments, according to the AGF.

This is coming barely a week after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) demanded a refund of $8.1 billion it sold to the telecoms giant between 2007 and 2015 as dividends to offshore shareholders.

In 2015, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) fined MTN N780 billion — later reduced to N330 billion — for failing to disconnect unregistered subscribers.

The AGF said his office made a “high-level calculation” that MTN should have paid approximately $2 billion in taxes relating to the importation of foreign equipment and payments to foreign suppliers since 2008.

He requested MTN to do a self-assessment of the taxes.

TheCable understands that MTN, in its response, did initial assessment showing that total payments already made to the tax authorities in regard to these foreign imports and transfers are $700 million.

It told the AGF that there were valid reasons for the differences between the actual payments and government’s assessment.

However, Malami has rejected the assessment and asked MTN to pay the $2 billion in full.