Crackdown On Crypto: Nigeria Govt Demands $10bn Fine From Binance


LAGOS MARCH 1ST (NEWSRANGERS)-The Nigerian government is demanding at least $10 billion as retribution from Binance amid crackdown on the crypto exchange platform in desperate moves to salvage the value of the nation’s local currency.

Bayo Onanuga, special adviser on information and strategy to President Bola Tinubu, made this known Friday morning in an interview with the BBC.

Binance profited substantially from its “illegal transactions” in Nigeria while the nation suffered huge losses, Mr Onanuga said during the interview, monitored by PREMIUM TIMES.

Earlier on Friday, PREMIUM TIMES reported that the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) confirmed that the crypto exchange platform is being investigated by the Nigerian authorities.

In its first official confirmation of the clampdown efforts on the activities of Binance and other crypto platforms, a top official of the ONSA confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that the security adviser’s office is coordinating an interagency investigation into the operations of Binance.

“I am confirming that the office of the national security adviser, as part of ongoing operations in the foreign exchange market with the CBN and other law enforcement and security agencies, is coordinating an interagency investigation into the operations of Binance,” Zakari Mijinyawa, head of Strategic Communication at the Office of the National Security Adviser, told PREMIUM TIMES after multiple requests for comment Thursday.

However, Mr Mijinyawa did not provide any other details about the investigations as of press time Thursday night.

On Wednesday, this newspaper reported how the government detained two executives of the crypto exchange platform amid desperate efforts to stabilise the nation’s foreign exchange market.

Sources with details of the matter told PREMIUM TIMES that the two executives were detained in Abuja, the federal capital territory, days after they flew into the country as part of moves to negotiate with the Nigerian authorities amid crackdown on the crypto platform.

They had arrived in Nigeria earlier in the week to negotiate with the government amid the crackdown. However, the meetings were deadlocked as Binance officials declined to meet some of the demands put forward by the Nigerian government.

They were also accused of operating a business worth billions without the requisite registrations and documentation.

According to sources who spoke with PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday evening, the Nigerian authorities requested Binance executives to provide data relating to transactions involving the Nigerian Naira on the Binance platform in the last seven years. They also demanded that some other data relating to Nigeria be deleted from the Binance platform.

However, the Binance executives insisted that they should be taken to their respective countries’ embassies before they could comply.

While the full identities of the two Binance executives remain sketchy, PREMIUM TIMES gathered that one of them is an American and the other a British-Pakistani.

The Nigerian government also obtained a court warrant to detain the officials for at least twelve days in the first instance, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.


On Friday, Mr Onanuga claimed that Binance is not registered in Nigeria and has no presence in the country. He alleged that people used the platform to arbitrarily fix dollar-naira rates; a practice he said negatively impacted the value of the local currency.

He explained further that the Binance team were already cooperating with the Nigerian government by providing useful information, and had already suspended naira related transactions on the platform.

Nigeria nevertheless wants Binance to pay at least $10 billion in retribution, Mr Onanuga said.

Earlier in the week, Mr Onanuga had alleged that if not stopped, the cryptocurrency trading platform will destroy the Nigerian economy by arbitrarily fixing foreign exchange rate.

“If we don’t clamp down on Binance, Binance will destroy the economy of this country. They just fix the rate,” the presidential spokesman said on Channels Television’s Politics Today programme on Wednesday.


Last week, PREMIUM TIMES reported how the Nigerian government blocked the online platforms of Binance and other crypto firms to avert what it considers continuous manipulation of the forex market and illicit movement of funds.

Apart from Binance, other platforms such as Forextime, OctaFX, Crypto, FXTM, Coinbase, Kraken, among others, were equally blocked.

Presidency and regulatory sources said the government decided to move against Binance and other crypto firms following reports that currency speculators and money launderers were using them to execute criminal activities. Authorities believe the ‘criminal activities’ going on on platforms are contributing significantly to the weakening of the naira.

Binance, a digital assets platform, serves as a window for peer to peer transactions allowing users to advertise interest to sell or buy currencies of their choice.

In September 2023, Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) placed a disclaimer on Binance Nigeria Limited, saying the platform was “neither registered nor regulated by the Commission and its operations in Nigeria are therefore illegal”.

In its reaction last week, Binance said “users behaving in a manipulative way” will be removed from its platform.

“As industry leaders, we are working hand in hand with local authorities, lawmakers, and regulators to ensure we act on non-compliance,” the platform added, noting that it is “setting an upper limit for ads, filtering and removing bad ads, requiring and raising deposits for merchants posting ads as well as processes for actioning against any market manipulators.”

The crypto exchange platform has, however, declined further comments amid the ongoing clampdown.

The Nigerian government’s retribution claim is coming months after Binance pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $4.3 billion to settle criminal money laundering charges levied by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Binance founder and CEO, Changpeng Zhao, also known as CZ, pleaded guilty and agreed to step down from his position. His criminal trial has been postponed to 30 April by a US court

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