File picture: Afolabi Sotunde

Johannesburg - Africa’s largest mobile operator, MTN, on Friday came out strongly to criticise media reports regarding the $3.9 billion fine imposed on it by Nigerian authorities.

Bloomberg on Thursday reported that MTN had proposed to pay $1.5 billion to settle the fine, but Nigerian regulators insisted that the fine be paid in full.

Read: Buhari stands firm as MTN battles to cut penalty

MTN spokesman Chris Maroleng refused to comment about the $1.5 billion proposal, saying the company would inform shareholders of developments through the Johannesburg Stock Exchange news service (SENS).

In a statement issued on Friday via SENS, MTN said it was continuing to engage with the Nigerian authorities in an attempt to ensure an amicable resolution to this matter in the interests of all parties involved.

“MTN is aware of the various reports which appeared in the press yesterday regarding the fine. MTN has previously advised shareholders not to make decisions based on press reports and MTN again urges its shareholders to refrain from doing so,” MTN said in the statement.

Initially, MTN was fined $5.2 billion by the Nigerian Communications Commission in October 2015 for missing a deadline to deactivate 5.1 million unregistered SIM cards. The fine was later reduced by 25 percent to $3.9 billion.

MTN continued to advise its shareholders to exercise caution when dealing in its securities.