FG arrests, detains two Binance officials who flew to Nigeria amid crypto clampdown – Reports

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The Federal Government has reportedly detained two top executives of Binance, the cryptocurrency trading platform.

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

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 largely unknown, their arrest is coming amid allegation of manipulation in foreign exchange trading in Nigeria.

NewsClick Nigeria reports that Special Adviser to President Bola Tinubu on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, 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”.

Also on February 27, 2024, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Olayemi Cardoso, said $26 billion passed through Binance Nigeria from unidentified sources in one year.

Cardoso said the apex bank is collaborating with the SEC to ensure there is no manipulation in the FX market.

He said there was also collaboration between the different agencies which includes the EFCC,  the police, and of course, the office of the NSA.

On June 9, 2023, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had said the operation of Binance Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of Binance, was illegal.

Meanwhile, despite the federal government and the CBN’s plan to clampdown on cryptocurrency trading, Binance is still operational.

The crypto firm, however, has discontinued the trading of the naira against bitcoin and tether cryptocurrencies on its exchange platform.