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Nigerian Official Clarifies Misquoted $10 Billion Binance Fine Amid Tightening Crypto Regulations

Bayo Onanuga, a special adviser to the Nigerian president on information and strategy, has clarified reports surrounding the alleged imposition of a $10 billion fine on the cryptocurrency exchange Binance.

Contrary to earlier reports by the BBC, Onanuga stressed that the claims were a result of misquotation and misunderstanding.

He emphasized that there has been no finalized decision to levy such a fine against Binance and that his previous statements had been misrepresented.

Specifically, Onanuga mentioned that he had only discussed the possibility of a fine, indicating that nothing is set in stone as of now.

This development comes amidst increasing regulatory scrutiny of cryptocurrency exchanges in Nigeria, a move aimed at protecting the integrity of the Nigerian naira.

Binance, in response to the growing pressure, has discontinued the use of the naira in its peer-to-peer (P2P) trading services as of February 28.

The P2P platform, popular among Nigerian users since 2021, facilitates direct transactions between buyers and sellers without the need for an intermediary.

This service gained popularity following the Nigerian government’s ban on the crypto industry during the tenure of former President Muhammadu Buhari.

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The situation is compounded by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) concerns over “suspicious flows” of funds through Binance’s Nigerian operations.

CBN Governor Olayemi Cardoso reported that in 2023 alone, $26 billion had been transacted through Binance from unverified sources and users, raising alarms over potential financial risks and the need for stringent oversight.

Further actions by the Nigerian government include the detention of two senior Binance officials in Abuja by the National Security Adviser’s office, highlighting the government’s intent to closely monitor and possibly regulate cryptocurrency exchanges to prevent undue speculation on the naira.

Despite these challenges, the CBN made a significant policy shift in December 2023 by lifting a two-year ban on banks’ involvement in crypto transactions.

This was accompanied by the issuance of guidelines for regulating virtual asset service providers.

Nigeria, having launched a central bank digital currency in 2022 and the naira-pegged cNGN stablecoin through the Africa Stablecoin Consortium in a regulatory sandbox in February, demonstrates a complex and evolving stance towards digital currencies.

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Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

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