Binance Under the Crosshairs of Nigerian Central Bank: Details

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has intensified its scrutiny of Binance, the leading cryptocurrency exchange, over concerns related to “suspicious flows” of funds through the trading platform in Nigeria in 2023. 

Governor Olayemi Cardoso of the CBN addressed reporters, expressing apprehension about illicit activities within crypto exchanges operating in Nigeria. Cardoso revealed

“We are concerned that certain practices go on that indicate illicit flows going through a number of these entities, suspicious flows at best.” 

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On the other hand, Binance founder Changpeng Zhao has been asked to surrender his travel documents ahead of his sentencing in the United States. 

Binance Under Scrutiny in Nigeria

Specifically focusing on Binance, he disclosed that a staggering $26 billion had passed through Nigeria within the last year alone from sources and users that could not be adequately identified. 

The CBN head emphasized ongoing collaboration between various agencies, including the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the police, and the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), to address these concerns.

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Passport of Two Binance Execs Confiscated

Reports have emerged that the NSA’s office detained and confiscated the passports of two Binance executives in Abuja, both citizens of the United States and the United Kingdom. 

Nigeria escalated its actions against cryptocurrency exchanges on February 21 by blocking internet access to Binance and several others, following allegations by presidential adviser Bayo Onanuga that these exchanges were manipulating the country’s currency. 

Binance had already imposed restrictions on Tether trading in Nigeria on February 20 in an effort to align with regulatory expectations.

Internet Block Extended to Other Exchanges

The internet block reportedly extended to other exchanges like Forextime, OctaFX, Crypto, FXTM, Coinbase, and Kraken on February 27. The Nigerian naira experienced an all-time low against the U.S. dollar on the same day, reflecting the economic implications of these regulatory actions.

Nigeria and Digital Assets

The CBN lifted a two-year ban on banks engaging in crypto transactions in December, simultaneously releasing guidelines for regulating virtual asset service providers. 

Notably, Nigeria became the second country to launch a central bank digital currency in 2022, with the Africa Stablecoin Consortium introducing the naira-pegged cNGN stablecoin in a CBN regulator sandbox this month.

As reported earlier, according to the data compiled by ConsenSys, Nigeria is reportedly the most crypto-aware country, with 99% of the population familiar with the concept and 91% willing to make an investment.

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