Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Nigeria demands Binance disclose top users, executives remain detained

Nigeria is actively seeking information from Binance regarding its top 100 users in the country and all transaction history spanning the past six months, according to a Financial Times report.

This news overlaps with the revelation of the names of the two executives from the cryptocurrency exchange who were detained two weeks ago: Tigran Gambaryan, Binance’s head of investigations, and Nadeem Anjarwalla, the crypto platform’s regional manager for Africa, the Wired reported Tuesday.

Last month, Gambaryan, who was a former crypto-focused U.S. federal agent, and Anjarwalla had their passports confiscated and have been held in confinement at a government facility in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. Their detainment is part of Nigeria’s broader crackdown on cryptocurrency exchanges, coinciding with questionable efforts by the government to revive the naira, the country’s national currency.

Before their detention, Gambaryan, a U.S. citizen, and Anjarwalla, a dual citizen of the U.K. and Kenya, responded to an invitation from the Nigerian government to discuss Binance operations and the restrictions imposed on the cryptocurrency exchange.

Nigeria’s central bank had expressed concerns about the loss of tax revenue from unregistered crypto exchanges. Additionally, it accused Binance of operating illegally and facilitating “illicit flows from sources and users who we cannot adequately identify,” amounting to $26 billion. As a result, the detained executives may face charges related to currency manipulation, tax evasion and illegal operations, per a Bloomberg report.

However, according to their families, none of the executives have been formally charged with any criminal offenses as of Tuesday. The Financial Times reports that Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency was granted permission to detain both Binance executives for 14 days, which concluded on Tuesday. A proposed hearing to extend the court order is scheduled for Wednesday.

In response to this heightened regulatory scrutiny and contentious negotiation tactics in Nigeria, Binance discontinued its naira (NGN) services last week.

Nigeria’s request for Binance’s top users in the country is the new focal point in negotiations between the largest crypto platform and Africa’s top crypto market. Just last week, local reports claimed that Nigeria’s parliament threatened to issue a warrant of arrest for the company’s executives and summoned Binance CEO Richard Teng to provide explanations regarding investigations into the company’s alleged involvement in money laundering and terror financing.

Meanwhile, documents reviewed by FT reveal that Nigeria, through its national security adviser, has requested that Binance address any outstanding tax liabilities.

By Tage Kene-Okafor, TechCrunch

Related stories: Nigeria plans clampdown on Binance, other crypto firms

Nigeria detains Binance executives in cryptocurrency crackdown

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