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Binance Execs Detained in Nigeria in Possible Criminal Probe


Nigeria reportedly detained two Binance executives as it increases pressure on the cryptocurrency sector.

The executives were picked up by national security officers after arriving in Nigeria after authorities said the company is operating illegally in the African nation, Bloomberg reported Thursday (Feb. 29), citing unnamed sources.

The executives have not been charged but could face allegations of currency manipulation, tax evasion and illegal operations, according to the report.

“It is not necessarily arrest per se,” Zakari Mijinyawa, a spokesman for the National Security Adviser told Bloomberg. “Meetings and discussions are ongoing. It’s a national security issue and an interagency process is on.”

However, Nigeria has been losing a key source of tax income because Binance is not registered in the country, per the report.

Nigerian Central Bank Governor Olayemi Cardoso cited Binance during a press conference this week after announcing a record interest rate hike to help shore up the country’s currency, the report said.

Lambasting “illicit flows,” Cardoso said $26 billion has passed through Binance in Nigeria “from sources and users who we cannot adequately identify,” according to the report.

Binance did not immediately reply to PYMNTS’ request for comment.

Last week saw reports that the Nigerian government had gotten the country’s telecoms to block Binance and other crypto platforms as the country tries to halt currency speculation.

Earlier this month, Bayo Onanuga, an adviser to Nigerian President Bola Tinubu, wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, that crypto exchanges have been “blatantly setting exchange rate for Nigeria,” supplanting the role of the country’s central bank.

He also called for other companies to “be banned from operating in our cyberspace” or else “this bleeding of our currency will continue unabated.”

According to the Bloomberg report, the detained Binance executives had been invited to meet with Nigerian officials in the wake of this crackdown.

Binance’s new troubles in Nigeria are the latest in a string of legal and regulatory headaches for the world’s largest crypto exchange, which last week finalized a $4.3 billion deal with the U.S. government resolving a Department of Justice criminal probe into the company.

Last month, both Google and Apple removed Binance’s app — along with those of other crypto companies — from their stores in India. This came after the Financial Intelligence Unit India said it was blocking the URLs of nine offshore virtual digital asset service providers, alleging these companies were not complying with India’s Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

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