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MTN Hires Former U.S. Attorney-General To Advise On Nigeria Fine

MTN Group Ltd. Has hired former United States Attorney-General, Eric Holder to take part in talks with Nigerian regulators about settling a $3.9 billion fine, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
Holder held preliminary talks with NCC Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Umaru Danbatta regarding the record penalty, which was imposed on Africa’s largest wireless company for missing a deadline to disconnect unregistered subscribers, the regulator’s spokesman, Tony Ojobo, said by phone on Wednesday.
The Financial Times earlier reported Holder’s involvement.
“We have consultants working for us across the globe,” MTN spokesman Chris Maroleng said by phone, declining to comment on Holder.
MTN shares gained 0.4 percent to 126.14 rand as of 11:52 a.m. in Johannesburg, reducing the decline since the fine was made public on October 26 to 34 percent. That values the company at 233 billion rand ($14.4 billion).
The penalty was originally set at $5.1 billion before an appeal by MTN led to a reduction by 25 percent. A Lagos court said January. 22 that the matter would be adjourned until March 18, allowing the two parties to reach an agreement.
Holder, a partner at Washington D.C.-based law firm Covington & Burling LLP, advises clients on litigation matters, including those that are international in scope and involve significant regulatory and reputational concerns, according to the company’s website. He was attorney-general from 2009 to 2015.
Holder, Jr. ,65, served as the 82nd Attorney General of the United States, from 2009 to 2015, serving in the administration of President Barack Obama. He is the first African American to hold the position of U.S. Attorney General.
Holder previously served as a judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and as United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. While U.S. Attorney, he prosecuted Congressman Dan Rostenkowski (D–Illinois) for corruption charges related to his role in the Congressional Post Office scandal.
Later, he was Deputy Attorney General of the United States and worked at the law firm of Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C. He was senior legal advisor to Barack Obama during Obama’s presidential campaign and one of three members of Obama’s vice-presidential selection committee. During the Fast and Furious investigation, he became the only cabinet member in U.S. history to be held in contempt of Congress.
Meanwhile , the Senate has described the disagreement between the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and MTN Nigeria, over the N780 billion fine imposed on the telecoms firm last year, as embarrassing.
Chairman of Senate Committee on Communication, Gilbert Nnaji, disclosed this in an interview with journalists in Abuja, assuring the general populace that the committee would resolve the matter in a way that all the parties would be happy.
“We have waded into the impasse between NCC and MTN Nigeria, we have started dialogue but it is still an in-house discussion, it will not be made known to the media until we reach a concrete agreement between NCC, MTN and the Senate Committee on Communication. The matter has become very embarrassing, but with dialogue, the matter will be resolved. We don’t want to hear that we are looking for foreign investors in the country and in the other way round, we are chasing them away, we can’t allow that to happen,” Nnaji said.

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