Would it be a total cancellation of the fine or a symbolic shave?
By Nsikan Ikpe
Feelers from those in the know indicate that the Central bank of Nigeria may presently be considering a backtrack action in favour of a review of the fine it had imposed on MTN and its bankers over charges of illegal remittances from Nigeria.
According to sources, this is coming on the heels of meetings involving the CBN, MTN and the affected banks as well as pressure from other sources within and outside government.
Some of these pressures have allegedly also been coming from President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa on the one hand while Nigeria’s Finance Ministry which is scheduled to undertake a very critical Eurobond sales promotion trip to London next week is also said to be arguing that the increasing negative impressions about the stability of trade and investments in Nigeria symbolised notably by the MTN fine and the withdrawal of two leading global investment brands from the country in recent times, could likely have a boomerang effect on its ability to pull through the transaction and deliver much needed cash to the nation.
An announcement is being awaited now but details remain sketchy as to whether the resolution would amount to a complete reversal of the fine in question or a symbolic shave that will see the apex banker slightly reduce the fine amount.
It will be recalled that the apex bank had in August slammed a $5.87billion fine on four of the lenders bankers over what it termed illegal funds repatriation from the West African nation.
Back in South Africa, analysts say that the payment of the fine may adversely affect both MTN and some of the affected banks that have their corporate origins in the Southern African nation.
Already, one or more pressure groups have staged demonstrations to strenghten the CBN’s hand in the ongoing discussions. However, analysts say that just like Nigeria was forced to back-track in the case of the Supreme Court ruling on the NFF, a backtrack on the MTN fine saga further reinforces the point about the choking hold of globalisation on national environments and thus the imperative of rigorous and thorough dissection of all variables, local and global alike, by policy makers even at the national level before conclusions are arrived at.
CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele