November 16, 2017 / 8:52 PM / a year ago

Benin expels local MTN boss amid fees row

COTONOU, Nov 16 (Reuters) - Benin’s government on Thursday expelled the head of South African telecoms giant MTN Group’s local unit amid a dispute over more than $200 million in unpaid fees.

In a signed order dated Nov. 14 and made public on Thursday, Interior Minister Sacca Lafia accused Stephen Blewett, a South African national, of “activities detrimental to security and public order”, without elaborating.

Blewett was given until Nov. 24 to leave the country.

The expulsion comes one week after MTN said Benin’s regulator was reviewing its local unit’s reasons for not paying $213 million in frequency fees for 2016 and 2017, a sum MTN says is excessive.

MTN said in a statement it had not been officially notified of the order but that the reported accusations against Blewett were “without basis” and that Blewett “always showed his respect for the laws of the Republic of Benin”.

MTN is Africa’s biggest mobile phone operator and has some 230 million subscribers in Africa and the Middle East.

Reporting By Allegresse Sasse; writing by Aaron Ross, editing by David Evans

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