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Naira rescue: Nigeria govt detains Binance executives amid crackdown

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Nigerian Government has allegedly detained two senior executives at Binance as the most populous African country sustains clampdown on cryptocurrency platforms understanding Naira at the foreign exchange market.

Pmnews.ng gathered that the executives of Binance flew to Nigeria following the country’s decision to restrict several cryptocurrency trading websites last week, but they were detained by the office of the country’s national security adviser and their passports seized, according to people familiar with the matter.

An adviser to the office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Binance declined to comment.

Nigerian authorities have focused on cryptocurrency websites after a rapid devaluation of the Naira that helped drive inflation to an almost three-decade high of 29.9 per cent.

The development comes a week after Bayo Onanuga, the Special Adviser on Information & Strategy to President Bola Tinubu, had charged the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to clampdown on Binance and other cryptocurrency platforms undermining Naira at the foreign exchange market.

Consequently, the Naira witnessed three days of appreciation until Tuesday, when it depreciated against the US Dollar.

Sources told Pmnews.ng that Binance had removed Naira transactions from its USDT trading due to the clampdown.

The development triggered a mass sell-off of Binance as USD crashed to N1,463.098 on Wednesday.

Similarly, FMDQ data showed that the Naira appreciated N1,609.51 per USD on Wednesday from 1,618.94 on Tuesday.

Recall that on Tuesday, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Olayemi Cardoso, while speaking at the 293rd Monetary Policy Committee meeting, said, “We are concerned that certain practices go on that indicate illicit flows going through a number of these entities [crypto platforms] and suspicious flows at best.

“In the case of Binance… $26 billion has passed through Binance Nigeria from sources and users who we cannot adequately identify”, he said.

According to Cardoso, Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency, police, and national security adviser were co-ordinating an investigation into cryptocurrency exchanges. The authorities were demanding a list of Binance’s Nigerian users since its inception, a person familiar with the matter said.

Onanuga had confirmed that Binance was restricted last week when the Nigerian telecom regulator ordered telecom companies to block access.

Recall that in December last year, the Central Bank of Nigeria lifted its ban on Cryptocurrency.

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