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Nigeria Detains Binance Execs Over Alleged Illegal Crypto Operations, Seizes Passports

Binance executives face detention in Nigeria amid ongoing crypto operation investigations.

Fri, 01 Mar 2024, 09:17 am UTC

According to reports from various media outlets, Nigeria has detained two executives of the Binance crypto exchange after they arrived in the country.

Allegations and Investigations

The Office of the National Security Adviser reportedly detained the two individuals upon arrival and confiscated their passports, per sources cited by the Financial Times.

A Coindesk report says that Nigerian officials had invited the executives for meetings but were intercepted upon landing, with authorities alleging that Binance had been operating illegally in the country. According to Bloomberg, while the executives have not been formally charged, they could potentially face accusations related to currency manipulation, tax evasion, and illegal operations.

Zakari Mijinyawa, a spokesman for the National Security Adviser, clarified to Bloomberg that the detention was part of an ongoing process and described it as a national security issue. He indicated that discussions and meetings were underway among various agencies.

Central Bank's Concerns

Central Bank Governor Olayemi Cardoso raised concerns about Binance Nigeria's activities, alleging the movement of $26 billion worth of untraceable funds. Cardoso emphasized worries about illicit financial flows and suspicious activities within certain entities, prompting investigations by Nigeria's anti-corruption agency, police, and national security adviser.

A source familiar with the situation disclosed that the authorities requested a comprehensive list of all Binance users in Nigeria from the time of the exchange's establishment.

Cardoso revealed that authorities are investigating crypto exchanges, including Binance Nigeria, seeking information about past and current users. Last year, Nigeria's Securities and Exchange Commission declared that Binance Nigeria was not authorized to operate, further adding to regulatory concerns surrounding the exchange's activities.

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