MTN settles $3.9bn fine

Johannesburg – Telecommunications network provider MTN has been granted a lifeline to settle its $3.9 billion fine out-of-court with Nigerian authorities, the company reportedly said on Friday.

The matter between MTN and the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) was heard by the the Federal High Court in Lagos, Nigeria on Friday morning.

The mobile operator, in a statement issued after the court hearing, said the judge adjourned the matter to March 18 in order to enable the parties to try and settle the matter.

According to Nigeria’s Technology Times, Chief Wole Olanipekun, who led a powerful team of MTN lawyers including 10 Senior Advocates of Nigeria to the court, told the Presiding judge Justice Mohammed Idris that MTN has opted to settle out of court.

But MTN spokesperson Chris Maroleng wasn’t immediately available to confirm this as his phone rang unanswered. “If the parties are unable to reach a settlement the matter will then proceed on that date,” MTN said in a statement on Friday.

MTN was fined $5.2 billion by the NCC for failing to disconnect five million subscribers, who were not properly registered, as required by law.

The fine was subsequently reduced to $3.9 billion, however, MTN challenged the penalty in court.

MTN believed the size of the fine and the way it was imposed were not in accordance with the commission’s powers under the Nigerian Communications Act.