Nigeria denies report of $10 billion Binance fine

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The government of Nigeria has refuted the speculations about a possible $10 billion fine for Binance, a cryptocurrency exchange. Despite the report of the BBC, backed by the statement of Bayo Onanuga, special adviser to the Nigerian president on information and strategy, the government says these allegations result from misquotation.

According to a local news outlet, the People’s Gazette, Onanuga has changed his statement to say that his words have been misrepresented and notes that there hasn’t been a definitive fine to Binance.  Onanuga clarified that he did not state that Binance was informed about the fines or that it would be $10 billion. He only mentioned the possibility of the imposed amount, 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 giant reportedly indicated its reluctance to negotiate any payment of fines with the Nigerian government.

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

This statement comes as crypto exchanges face growing regulatory scrutiny in Nigeria, with multiple platforms banned recently to safeguard the national currency. The cryptocurrency trading platform removed the Nigerian currency, 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 as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) expressed concerns about “suspicious flows” of funds through Binance Nigeria in 2023. CBN head Olayemi Cardoso highlighted that $26 billion had passed through Nigeria via Binance in 2023 from unidentified sources and users.

There are also reports that the National Security Adviser’s office has detained two senior Binance officials in Abuja as the nation looks to crack down on cryptocurrency exchanges to tame the speculation about the naira.

The CBN lifted a two-year ban on banks engaging in crypto transactions in December, 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 launched the naira-pegged cNGN stablecoin in a CBN regulator sandbox this month as well.

Cointelegraph has contacted Binance for comment.

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