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    Friday, March 1, 2024

    CBN, ONSA Investigates Operations of Binance, Other Cryptocurrencies

    In its first official confirmation of the clampdown efforts on the activities of Binance and other crypto platforms, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in partnership with the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) has confirmed that a multi-agency investigation into the operations of Binance and other cryptocurrencies is being conducted, and two top executives of Binance, the cryptocurrency trading platform have been reportedly detained. 

    The investigation which involved regulatory bodies, security services, anti-corruption and intelligence agencies is focusing on unravelling those behind money laundering and other financial crimes through cryptocurrencies in disregards to applicable laws and regulations, BrandIconImage gathered.

    The exercise is already achieving result in curbing activities of forex speculators, safeguarding Nigeria’s foreign exchange market and combating speculative activities.

    Beyond the recent arrest of two executives of Binance, there are feelers that Nigeria may slam billions of dollars fines on the company and other cryptocurrency firms operating in the country.

    The crypto companies were accused of engaging in currency manipulations against the Nigeria’s Naira without underlying transactions, a development which had contributed to the current FX liquidity crisis.

    Some of the key law enforcement agencies, involved in the exercise include the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Nigeria Customs Service and the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) among others.

    When contacted the Head of Strategic Communicationat ONSA, Zakari Mijinyawa told PRNigeria that the objective of the alliance is to systematically identify, thoroughly investigate and appropriately penalize individuals and organizations involved in wrongful activities within the FX market.,

    “The commitment of government through this process is to neutralise all threats to our economic security and stabilise the FX market. The outcomes from this interagency investigation will be made available in due course.”

    Recall that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Mr Olayemi Cardoso, during the press briefing after the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting held on Monday and Tuesday in Abuja said that the apex bank is currently working in collaboration with law enforcement agencies to tackle the infractions and manipulations going on in the Forex market.

    He disclosed that 26 billion dollars was siphoned through Binance in one year alone, adding that all underhand dealings need to be uncovered.

    The apex bank boss said “what we are doing at the moment is a collaboration between the CBN and law enforcement agencies to ensure that we understand better what is going on in the market and where these infractions are taking place and are speedily dealt with.

    “Now I must say that as far as CBN is concerned, we are moving to a very aggressive regulatory environment where those policies and regulations must be complied with,” he added.

    However, the federal government has reportedly detained two top executives of Binance, the cryptocurrency trading platform.

    According to Financial Times on Wednesday, the executives flew to Nigeria but had their passports seized by the Office of the National Security Adviser.

    The report said the executives visited Nigeria in response to the country’s recent crackdown on various cryptocurrency trading platforms.  

    Although the reasons for their detention are unknown, their arrest is coming amid allegation of manipulation in foreign exchange trading in Nigeria.

    Bayo Onanuga, special adviser to President Bola Tinubu on information and strategy, on February 21, 2024, said Binance and other cryptocurrency platforms should be banned from operating in the country

    He said Binance is “blatantly setting exchange rate for Nigeria,” and hijacking the role of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

    The special adviser called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the CBN to move against the platforms, adding that the firms are trying to “manipulate our national currency to ground zero”.

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