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BEAC warns Cameroon over the seizure of MTN bank accounts

By , Freelance Investigative Journalist
Cameroon , 19 Sep 2023
Abbas Mahamat Tolli, governor of the Bank of Central African States.
Abbas Mahamat Tolli, governor of the Bank of Central African States.

Abbas Mahamat Tolli, Governor of the Bank of Central African States (BEAC), has expressed concern over the poor application of rules governing Cameroon's banking and financial system.

This comes after the bank accounts of MTN Cameroon and its subsidiary MTN Mobile Money Corporation were frozen.

The BEAC is a central bank that serves six central African countries which form the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo.

MTN bank accounts in Cameroon have been frozen since September 2022, and there is increasing pressure to place the funds in escrow.

Responding to concerns raised by the Professional Association of Credit Institutions of Cameroon in a letter dated 8 September and seen by ITWeb Africa on Monday, BEAC governor stated that transferring the funds into an escrow account poses a systemic risk to the country.

The case is based on a garnishee order, served at the request of Ahmadou Baba Danpullo, a business mogul with significant government ties, who is embroiled in a dispute with a South African bank. MTN Group is headquartered in South Africa.

According to the BEAC governor, the funds belong to mobile money clients, and hence are not subject to recourse from other creditors under the community's payment services legislation.

Tolli said: “It therefore appears that the community rules or national rules, particularly those governing deposits and consignments in Cameroon are not respected.

"I particularly draw your attention to the risks posed by such court decision on the banking and financial system.”

Tolli emphasised that the ruling lacks legal backing.

He urged the minister of finance, to whom the correspondence was written, to seek recourse from his peer of justice.

The confiscation of MTN's accounts, which the telco says is abusive and illegal, has created operational difficulties for the company and may have a severe impact on its 12 million subscribers.

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