Nigeria denies report of $10B Binance fine


A Nigerian government representative has refuted speculation about a $10 billion fine for crypto exchange Binance. Bayo Onanuga, a special adviser to the Nigerian president on information and strategy, says the allegations reported by the BBC are the result of a misquotation.

According to a local news outlet, the People’s Gazette, Onanuga changed his statement to say that his words were misrepresented and claims there hasn’t been a definitive decision to fine Binance.  Onanuga said he did not state that Binance was informed about the fines or that it would be $10 billion. He only mentioned the possibility of a fine, as nothing is final yet.

Regarding the $10 billion penalty on Binance, the Peoples Gazette stated that Binance is unaware and hasn’t been informed. The cryptocurrency exchange reportedly indicated its reluctance to negotiate any fines with the Nigerian government.

Screenshot showing comment on Nigerian government fining Binance. Source: 007Soja/X

The statement comes as crypto exchanges face growing regulatory scrutiny in Nigeria, with multiple platforms banned recently to safeguard the country’s national currency, the Nigerian naira. Binance removed the naira from its peer-to-peer (P2P) service on Wednesday, Feb. 28, amid a crackdown on the crypto exchange.

Related: Nigerian central bank head criticizes Binance, execs reportedly arrested

The P2P feature allows users, buyers and sellers to trade without involving a third party. It became popular in Nigeria in 2021 following the government’s ban on its thriving crypto industry during former President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

Binance is under increased scrutiny in Nigeria, with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) expressing concerns about “suspicious flows” of funds through the exchange’s Nigerian arm in 2023. CBN Governor Olayemi Cardoso highlighted that $26 billion had passed through Nigeria via Binance in 2023 from unidentified sources and users.

The National Security Adviser’s office has also reportedly detained two senior Binance officials in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, as the nation looks to crack down on cryptocurrency exchanges to tame the speculation about the naira.

In December 2023, the CBN lifted a two-year ban on banks engaging in crypto transactions and issued guidelines for regulating virtual asset service providers simultaneously.

Nigeria was the second country to launch a central bank digital currency in 2022. The Africa Stablecoin Consortium also launched the naira-pegged cNGN stablecoin in a CBN regulator sandbox in February.

Cointelegraph has contacted Binance for comment.

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