South African-based MTN and French-based Orange owes Cameroon nearly R2.7 billion (100 billion CFA francs) in taxes, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
The Central African nation’s corruption board told the news agency that an inquiry into the sector, carried out by the anti-corruption commission known as CONAC, found that taxes totaling 176 billion CFA francs had gone unpaid from various companies, including Camtel and Viettel.
MTN told Reuters that it had not been informed of any fines against its Cameroon business, but said it was looking into the matter.
CONAC told Reuters that MTN owed nearly 52 billion CFA francs in taxes and royalties, while Orange should pay around 48 billion CFA francs. It said both companies had also benefited from tax breaks – worth over 28 billion CFA francs for Orange and 24 billion CFA francs for MTN – that the corruption watchdog deemed to be illegal.
Meanwhile, MTN has hired seven Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) to fight a R59 billion ($3.9 billion) fine in the Federal High Court in Lagos. The initial fine was $5.2 billion and was in December reduced to $3.9 billion.
The company has warned that the fine imposed on MTN Nigeria could bankrupt the mobile phone operator as it represents 95% of its annual turnover.
Africa’s largest mobile phone operator was given a December 31 deadline to pay the fine for its failure to disconnect 5.2 million subscribers who did not register their SIM cards.
The payment deadline has expired.
The Nigerian authorities have promised to wait for the outcome of a court challenge filed by MTN before deciding on whether to enforce the fine