The Nigerian government is pushing for a record fine to be imposed on MTN because of its slowing economic growth thanks to lower oil prices.
This is according to a report in the Sunday Times, quoting a senior MTN executive who did not wish to be identified as the issue of MTN’s 780 billion Naira ($3.9 billion) fine is in court.
“The fine in some opinions is actually a balancing number for the very stressed Nigerian budget,” the executive said.
Originally, the fine was set at N1.04 trillion ($5.2 billion) — almost 25% of Nigeria’s whole budged, the paper reported.
Even though it was later reduced to N780 billion (±R59 billion), it would still be the largest fine ever levied on a telecommunications company.
Prior to this, the highest was a $100 million fine imposed on AT&T by US authorities.
The fine would also be the highest in Nigeria’s history, the MTN executive said, including those imposed on Shell for polluting the Niger Delta for over 50 years.
“The maximum fine they ever paid the Nigerian government was £55 million [or ±R1.2 billion in today’s terms].”
MTN was fined earlier this for not disconnecting unregistered SIMs from its network in time to meet the deadline imposed by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
The NCC proceeded to fine the operator N200,000 (±R15,140) per unregistered SIM.
Read the full report in the Sunday Times (20 December 2015)