• en

$10 Billion Fine: Nigerian President’s Media Aide Says He Was Misinterpreted, Binance Says No Plans To Pay

“I never said Binance had been informed about the fines or that it would definitely be $10 billion.”

Cryptocurrency giant Binance Holdings Ltd has refuted claims that it is in discussions with the Nigerian government regarding potential fines of up to $10 billion. This contradicts the earlier statement made by Bayo Onanuga in an interview with the BBC on Friday.

Onanuga, the special adviser on information and strategy to President Bola Tinubu, who according to a BBC report on Friday, said that the Nigerian government had imposed a $10 billion fine on Binance in an attempt to salvage the value of the naira, later said his words were misinterpreted by the media.

According to a Binance official quoted by Peoples Gazette, “We recently discussed ways to resolve issues with Nigeria, but we did not hear any demand for $10 billion.”

The Cayman Islands-based company clarified that it is not entertaining talks with the Nigerian government either to restore its recently cut-off services or release its executives, who are being held over alleged involvement in manipulation leading to the collapse of the naira and subsequent economic repercussions.

“Our aim is to chart a good relationship with the government and the people of Nigeria. We want to see our services restored in Nigeria very soon, but we have no intention of paying fines for personnel or services,” Binance said.

Bayo Onanuga responded to Binance’s position, stating that his earlier statement to the BBC had been misrepresented in the media.

He clarified that he never asserted the company had been informed about the fines or that the $10 billion figure was conclusively determined by Nigerian regulators.

“I said our government may impose heavy fines on Binance for what happened,” Onanuga explained. “I never said Binance had been informed about the fines or that it would definitely be $10 billion.”

“I only said the amount may be imposed, which is because nothing has been finalised yet,” Mr Onanuga said, placing repeated emphasis on the uncertainties around the fines.

Mr Onanuga, a media aide to President Bola Tinubu, had accused the cryptocurrency platform of aiding those fixing the Nigerian exchange rate to sabotage the economy.

“Binance platform harbours people who fix the exchange rate which quickly affects the Nigerian economy for the time when Nigeria is trying to stabilize the economy,” Mr Onanuga told BBC.

“The platform fixes the exchange rate for the country and it is an illegal rate. The CBN is the only authority that can fix the exchange rate for the country,” he added.

Onanuga accused Binance of profiting substantially from “illegal transactions” in Nigeria, causing significant losses to the nation.

On Friday, Onanuga asserted that Binance is not registered in Nigeria and has no physical presence in the country. He alleged that the platform was used to arbitrarily fix dollar-naira rates, negatively impacting the value of the local currency.

Onanuga claimed that Binance is cooperating with the Nigerian government by providing useful information and has already suspended naira-related transactions on the platform.

He said, “If we don’t clamp down on Binance, Binance will destroy the economy of this country.”

Earlier in the week, two executives of Binance were detained in Abuja, the federal capital territory, following their arrival in the country for negotiations with the Nigerian authorities. The meetings reportedly reached a deadlock as Binance officials declined to meet certain demands from the government.

They were accused of operating a billion-dollar business without proper registrations and documentation.

The Nigerian government requested data from Binance executives related to transactions involving the Nigerian Naira on the platform over the past seven years. Additionally, they demanded the deletion of some data related to Nigeria from the Binance platform.

 However, the Binance executives insisted on being taken to their respective countries’ embassies before complying.

Ozioma Samuel-Ugwuezi

Editors note: This story has been updated to reflect Binance’s refutal of a fine being imposed on it and Onanuga clarifying a statement attributed to him by the BBC.  


Follow us on: