FG detains two Binance executives in Abuja, demands list of Nigerians on global crypto platform

February 29, 2024

2.3 min readCategories: Business

 

 

By: Ade Phillips

 

The Federal Government has allegedly detained two senior executives of Binance, a cryptocurrency trading platform, on Monday night in Abuja as part of investigations into the company’s operations in Nigeria.

 

According to the Financial Times on Wednesday, the executives arrived in Nigeria but had their passports confiscated by the Office of the National Security Adviser.

 

Reports indicate that the executives traveled to Nigeria following the country’s recent crackdown on several cryptocurrency trading platforms.

 

While the reasons for their detention remain unclear, their arrest coincides with allegations of manipulation in foreign exchange trading in Nigeria.

 

Special Adviser to President Bola Tinubu on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, on February 21, 2024, said Binance and other cryptocurrency platforms should be banned from operating in the country

 

He noted that Binance is “blatantly setting exchange rate for Nigeria,” and hijacking the role of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

 

Onanuga urged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the CBN to move against the platforms, stating that the firms are trying to “manipulate our national currency to ground zero”.

 

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Olayemi Cardoso on February 27, pointed out that $26 billion passed through Binance Nigeria from unidentified sources in one year.

 

Cardoso said the apex bank is collaborating with the SEC to ensure there is no manipulation in the FX market.

 

He said there was also collaboration between the different agencies which includes the EFCC, the police, and of course, the office of the NSA.

 

“In the case of Binance, in the last one year alone, $26 billion has passed through ‘Binance Nigeria’ from sources and users who we cannot adequately identify,” Cardoso said at a press conference.

 

The Executive Secretary of the Stakeholders in Blockchain Technology Association of Nigeria, Rume Ophi, told DL News that he learned about the DSS’ raid on Binance from his own contacts at the company.

 

Binance, however, did not immediately respond to DL News’ requests for comment.

 

This development occurred as the Nigerian Communications Commission, the country’s telecoms regulator, ordered internet service providers to block access to Binance, Kraken, Coinbase and other crypto exchange websites.

 

That action came after Binance and other crypto exchanges were accused of aiding and abetting currency speculation and forex market manipulation from several segments of Nigeria’s government.

 

On June 9, 2023, the Securities and Exchange Commission had said the operation of Binance Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of Binance, was illegal.

 

Meanwhile, despite the federal government and the CBN’s plan to clampdown on cryptocurrency trading, Binance is still operational.

 

The crypto firm, however, has discontinued the trading of the naira against bitcoin and tether cryptocurrencies on its exchange platform.

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