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FG Detains 2 Binance Executives In Crackdown On Cryptocurrency

FG Detains 2 Binance Executives In Crackdown On Cryptocurrency

Two senior executives of Binance have been detained in Nigeria as Federal Government tries to rein in speculation on the Naira by cracking down on cryptocurrency exchanges.

The executives flew to Nigeria following the country’s decision to ban several cryptocurrency trading websites last
week but they were detained by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and their passports seized, according to people familiar with the matter.

An adviser to ONSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Also, Binance declined to comment on the development.

Nigerian authorities have turned their focus to cryptocurrency websites after a rapid devaluation of the Naira that helped drive inflation to an almost three-decade high of 29.9 per cent. The sites have emerged as an alternative for trading and establishing an unofficial price for the Nigerian currency.

Following the detention of the executives, Binance halted trading of the Naira against bitcoin and tether digital coins on its exchange.

On Tuesday, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Olayemi Cardoso, named Binance at a press conference while discussing the funds flowing through crypto exchanges.

“We are concerned that certain practices go on that indicate illicit flows going through a number of these entities [crypto platforms] and suspicious flows at best,” Cardoso told journalists.

“In the case of Binance, in the last one year alone, $26bn has passed through Binance Nigeria from sources and users
who we cannot adequately identify,” he  added.

According to Cardoso, Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency, police and national security adviser (NSA) were co-ordinating an investigation into cryptocurrency exchanges in the country.

The authorities were demanding to see a list of Binance’s Nigerian users since its inception, a person familiar with the matter told Financial Times of UK.

Last week, the telecoms regulator ordered telecoms companies to block access to some of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges such as Binance, Coinbase and Kraken.

President Bola Tinubu-led government has been trying to attract overseas investment to boost the country’s struggling economy with a series of market-friendly reforms.

These included trying to tidy up its messy system of multiple exchange rates and end its years-long currency peg. It has twice devalued the Naira in eight months.

The dispute is a blow to Binance as it tries to reform its internal culture. In November, the company paid $4.3bn in penalties to US authorities after pleading guilty to criminal charges related to money laundering and violating international sanctions rules.

Its former chief executive, Changpeng Zhao, also pleaded guilty to a criminal charge related to money laundering and
resigned from his position.

Last week, special adviser to President Tinubu, Bayo Onanuga, accused Binance of “blatantly” setting the exchange rate for Nigeria and hijacking the central bank’s role as the currency rate setter.

TheFacts

Full Stack Developer, Backend And Frontend. And Also Bagged a HND in Computer Science at Abubakar Tatari Ali Polytechnic Bauchi.

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