In a recent development, a representative of the Nigerian government has contradicted speculation about a possible $10 billion fine on crypto exchange Binance. Bayo Onanuga, the Nigerian president’s special adviser on information and strategy, has indicated that reporting on this, including by the BBC, is based on a misunderstanding.

Previous statements have been adjusted

The People’s Gazette, a local news outlet, reports that Onanuga has revised his previous statements. He states that his words have been misinterpreted and emphasizes that no final decision has yet been made on whether to impose a fine on Binance. “I did not say that Binance was aware of the fines or that the amount would be $10 billion. I only mentioned the possibility of a fine as no final decisions have been made yet,” Onanuga said.

Despite reports of a possible $10 billion fine, Binance has indicated that it has not been officially notified by the Nigerian government and is reluctant to negotiate any sanctions. This development comes against the backdrop of increasing regulation of crypto exchanges in Nigeria. The government recently banned several platforms in an effort to protect the national currency, the Nigerian naira. In response, Binance removed the naira from its peer-to-peer (P2P) services on February 28.

Binance’s P2P feature, which allows users to trade directly with each other without the need for a third party, became popular in Nigeria following the government’s 2021 cryptocurrency ban led by former President Muhammadu Buhari.

Concerns about suspicious money flows

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has expressed concerns about ‘suspicious money flows’ flowing through the Nigerian branch of Binance. In 2023, it was revealed that $26 billion worth of transactions were taking place through Binance in Nigeria from unknown sources. In addition, two senior Binance officials have been arrested in the Nigerian capital Abuja by the Office of the National Security Advisor, as part of a broader initiative to restrict the use of crypto exchanges.

In December 2023, the CBN lifted a two-year ban on banks engaged in crypto transactions and issued guidelines for regulating virtual asset service providers. Nigeria became the second country in the world to launch a central bank digital currency in 2022, and in February the Africa Stablecoin Consortium introduced the naira-pegged cNGN stablecoin in a testing ground overseen by the CBN.


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