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MTN hires ex-US Attorney General to challenge $3.9bn Nigerian fine

MTN hires ex-US Attorney General to challenge $3.9bn Nigerian fine


Africa’s largest mobile phone company, MTN, has hired a former top U.S. law enforcement official to help challenge a $3.9 billion fine imposed by Nigeria for failing to disconnect unregistered users.

Reports said on Wednesday, former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder pleaded with Nigerian officials last month on behalf of the telecoms company.

MTN Group was handed a $5.2 billion penalty by Nigeria in October, prompting weeks of lobbying that led to a 25 percent reduction to $3.9 billion.

MTN, however, was still not prepared to pay the fine and launched a court challenge in December, saying the Nigerian telecoms regulator had no legal grounds to order the penalty.

A judge in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, last month gave MTN until March 18 to try to reach a settlement over the fine, which equates to more than twice MTN’s annual average capital spending over the past five years.

Holder, who led the U.S. Justice Department from 2009 to 2015, was one of President Barack Obama’s longest-serving cabinet members.

He returned to law firm Covington & Burling where he was previously a partner from 2001 to 2009.