Liberia: Local Shareholders Accuse INVESTCOM/MTN of Denying Their Rights

Liberia: Local Shareholders Accuse INVESTCOM/MTN of Denying Their Rights

Lonestar Cell MTN Mobile Money Inc. was recently fined millions of Liberian dollars by the CBL, the official regulator of all mobile money operations, for non-compliance with various regulations.

MONROVIA – Local shareholders are alleging that INVESTCOM/LLC’s refusal to recognize their rights is based on discrimination against Liberians, whom the company profiles as “poor and low-level,” according to a report available to this paper. The shareholders find this troubling, considering that Investcom/MTN makes millions of dollars and benefits from having these Liberians as shareholders.

“So, to be spiteful of Liberians as such, and in Liberia too, is inconceivable,” says an aggrieved shareholder who asked not to be named.

The investigation revealed that Investcom/MTN, through several communications, persists in depriving the Liberian shareholders of their 20% shares, claiming local shareholders are unworthy of holding shares in such a lucrative business. FPA has reliably learned that Investcom/MTN ignored their lawyers’ advice to issue the shares to local shareholders and instead hired Heritage and Partners, sidelining their original legal counsel.

Contrary to Central Bank of Liberia (CBL) regulations and laws designed to empower Liberians and develop the middle class, the company is reportedly remitting millions of dollars from Liberia without paying any dividends to local shareholders. Additionally, INVESTCOM/MTN is allegedly attempting a hostile takeover, using their lawyer to represent both the company and all shareholders’ interests, and paying legal fees from the shared funds.

Lonestar Cell MTN Mobile Money Inc. was recently fined millions of Liberian dollars by the CBL, the official regulator of all mobile money operations, for non-compliance with various regulations. In a sternly-worded letter to MTN Mobile Money CEO Rahul De, the CBL cited “continuous violations of CBL’s mobile money regulations and failure to conform to minimum corporate governance requirements.”

Instead of paying the fine and complying with CBL directives, the CEO appealed for the fine to be waived. But the CBL rejected the appeal and re-affirmed its demand for immediate payment and compliance with regulations. The CBL further noted that MTN Mobile Money has been in continuous violation since its inception.

Further investigation by FrontPageAfrica confirmed that the fine has now been paid, but the company still has not complied with CBL regulations, leading the CBL to warn MTN Mobile Money that continued non-compliance could result in additional penalties.

In a related development, local Liberian shareholders of MTN Mobile Money have sued the company in the Commercial Court of Liberia for non-compliance with their rights as shareholders.

Meanwhile, there have been calls for inclusive contractual agreements in Liberia. Activists believe that for far too long, the people of Liberia have grappled with the vestiges of economic marginalization and inequality.

“We must restructure our contractual obligations to enshrine the inclusion of Liberian voices, ensuring equitable distribution of wealth and the shaping of national decision-making processes. The plight of the Liberian people has been characterized by systematic exploitation, where contracts governing natural resources and foreign investments have disproportionately benefited multinational corporations and politically corrupt elites,” says a regular commentator on FrontPage Africa.

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