Amid claims and counter claims of massive corporate tax fraud in the telecoms sector, the mobile telephone giant MTN Cameroon has gone public with the billions of francs it pays to the state every year, giving Cameroonians a rare glimpse of the lumps of cash in the multibillion-franc sector.
MTN bared its “”exceptional contribution to the state revenue” of nearly 470 billion francs in four years on Wednesday, in what was clearly a poorly veiled attack on recent accusations by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC or CONAC in French) that the company owed the state about 76 billion francs in various dues and had shadily received a “tax gift” of 24.2 billion francs.
CEO Philisiwe Sibiya had earlier denied the fraud and corruption accusations, which were also levied on MTN’s main competitor Orange Cameroun and the state-run Cameroon Telecommunications (Camtel). NACC said the three companies had defrauded the state of more than 170 billion francs, in a sensational report on 28 January.
The report received mixed reviews and immediately came under strong attack.
Mukete’s statement, following an MTN board meeting in Douala, did not mention the NACC report, but sought to shred its main claims. Its tone was both boastful and angry.
“Between 201 and 2014, MTN paid 467.65 billion FCFA to the government of Cameroon and the regulatory board as taxes, duties and royalties, in strict compliance with the regulations in force,” said Colin Mukete, MTN board chairman in a statement Wednesday. “MTN also paid 75 billion [francs] to the state for the renewal of its operating license in 2015.”
“MTN Cameroon’s contribution to the State Revenues represents an average of approximately 40% of its annual turnover.”
“Concurrently, 53.1% of MTN Cameroon’s annual turnover is reinvested in the company and local economy in the form of infrastructures reinforcement, payment of employees’ salaries, invoices of suppliers, commissions of distribution partners, not to mention the activities of the MTN Foundation which continues to receive national acclaim.
“MTN Cameroon was recently honored by the Customs of Cameroon, for its exceptional and exemplary contribution to State Revenues.”
MTN is one of the two biggest tax payers in the country.