MTN Group Ltd. should pay double the $5.2 billion it was originally fined by Nigeria’s telecommunications regulator last year, according to the spokesman for the West African country’s House of Representatives.
Africa’s biggest wireless operator must pay 400,000 naira ($2,015) for each of the 5.2 million unregistered phone lines it failed to deactivate before a deadline, instead of 200,000 naira, lawmaker Abdulrazak Namdas said in a phone interview from Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.
He also said the lower chamber will “investigate” why Johannesburg-based MTN has been dealing with Nigeria’s attorney general instead of the Nigerian Communications Commission in trying to get the fine reduced.
While the penalty was cut to $3.9 billion earlier this year, MTN proposed this month to pay $1.5 billion in cash and installments to settle it. MTN’s proposal includes $252 million dollars that was paid in February in order to continue negotiations.
MTN spokesman Chris Maroleng said the company wouldn’t comment on the Nigerian lawmakers’ call. “We note ongoing media report coming from Nigeria,” Maroleng said. “But we cannot be drawn into commenting on the matter as we are awaiting clarity and an official position from the Nigerian government on the matter.”
He added MTN would guide the market accordingly “when there is more clarity on the matter”. Shares in MTN, which have declined 38% during the last 12 months, fell 0.2% to 128.43 rand at 9:05 a.m. in Johannesburg.