INTERNATIONAL - MTN Group has been slapped with a $2 billion tax bill, it said on Tuesday, the latest demand by authorities in the South African company’s most lucrative but increasingly problematic market, sending its shares lower.

The announcement of the tax bill comes days after the west African country’s central bank ordered MTN’s Lagos-based unit hand over $8.1 billion that it said was illegal sent abroad.

In a statement outlining the background to the $8.1 billion that the central bank said MTN Nigerian unit used improperly issued certificates to send abroad, MTN disclosed it had been in talks with Nigeria’s Attorney General about an investigation into tax compliance by the mobile operator.

“In this process, his (Atoorney General’s) office made a high-level calculation that MTN Nigeria should have paid approximately $2.0 billion in taxes relating to the importation of foreign equipment and payments to foreign suppliers over the last 10 years,” MTN said.

MTN said its total payment of around $700 million fully settled the amount owing under the taxes in question.

Shares in MTN dropped 5.5 percent to 82 rand as of 1131 GMT. 

- REUTERS