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Nigeria Presses Binance To Divulge Top 100 Users Amid Naira Speculation Probe

Binance, at the centre of investigations into attacks against the Naira, has been told to reveal transaction history.

Nigeria’s federal government has asked Binance for information on its top 100 users in the country including transaction history for the past six months as investigations into currency speculation allegations continue for the third week.

The request to reveal the individuals involved in its trading activities was central to ongoing negotiations between the federal government and the exchange.

Binance is at the centre of investigations over its involvement in speculative attacks against the Naira which had witnessed unprecedented volatility against major currencies particularly the Dollar in recent times amid a currency devaluation.

The Financial Times reported that the Office of the National Security Adviser is further demanding that the exchange defray any outstanding tax liabilities to the federal government during its operations in the country.

Nigeria has focused its attention on Binance and other cryptocurrency websites as it seeks to head off its worst economic crisis in three decades and restore its citizens’ faith in its battered currency.

Amid the currency manipulations row, security agencies in collaboration with officials from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as well as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) blocked web access to cryptocurrency exchanges and detained two Binance executives who had flown to Abuja to discuss the crackdown.

Binance has removed the naira for trading from its website following the dispute.

Reports alleged that the two Binance executives under detention are being held at a guest house in Abuja adjacent to the national security adviser’s office, with their phones and passports seized upon their detention.

Binance was unable to contact them until March 5, 2024, a week after their detention, and they have not been charged in court.

The federal government had secured a permit to detain both Binance executives for 14 days, a period that ended on Tuesday, the Financial Times further stated.

The crackdown on Binance followed ongoing investigations into the country’s foreign exchange market which had reportedly endured years of distortions, manipulations, and speculations, leading to the continuous weakening of the Naira against major currencies particularly the US dollar in recent times.

Speaking at the just concluded meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), CBN Governor, Mr. Olayemi Cardoso, justified the central bank’s recent clampdown on cryptocurrency platforms, particularly Binance which he said, allowed its platform for speculative activities against the Naira.

He explained that unidentified users accessed $26 billion on the platform in 2023 with all the attendant implications for monetary policy, especially the tendency to stoke inflation and make the naira further vulnerable.

Cardoso said there were also indications of illicit inflows and suspicious transactions adding that the CBN had the responsibility to protect Nigerians from the disruptive activities of such crypto platforms.

He said the apex bank was collaborating with the different agencies including the EFCC, police, and the Office of the NSA to crack down on the alleged economic saboteurs.

He said, “We are concerned that certain practices go on that indicate illicit flows going through a number of these entities and suspicious flows.

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

“There is a lot that is going on now as a result of collaboration between the different agencies which includes the EFCC and the police, and of course, the Office of the NSA and in due course, as we progress and have more information to share, we will certainly share but suffice to say that we are determined to do everything it takes to ensure that we take charge of our market and do not allow others to manipulate our markets in a way that ends up distortionary.

“We will not accept it. And we will do everything possible to prevent any of these kinds of infractions from taking place.”

James Emejo 

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