Sharing African Stories 26 May, 2024

Binance to suspend naira services amidst an ongoing regulatory investigation in Nigeria

In response to heightened regulatory scrutiny in Nigeria, Binance has announced its decision to discontinue its naira (NGN) services, as stated in a blog post released today. The cryptocurrency exchange plans to initiate the delisting of any existing NGN spot trading pairs by Thursday, March 7. Users are advised to withdraw, trade, or convert their NGN assets into crypto before the service discontinuation. Remaining NGN balances in users’ spot and funding wallets will be converted to USDT on Friday, March 8, according to the announcement.

Additionally, by Wednesday, March 6, Binance will remove NGN services from its auto-invest tool and eliminate the currency from the list of supported payment options on Binance Pay.

This move comes in light of recent regulatory actions by the Nigerian government, which imposed restrictions on both local and foreign cryptocurrency exchanges, including Binance. Consequently, users have faced accessibility challenges on the Binance website. Last week, the Central Bank of Nigeria, the country’s apex bank, stated that Nigeria was losing tax revenue due to unregistered crypto exchanges and accused Binance of facilitating “illicit flows from sources and users who we cannot adequately identify,” amounting to $26 billion.

Subsequently, two Binance officials were reportedly detained after being invited to Nigeria to discuss the regulatory restrictions. According to Bloomberg, the officials were held on allegations that Binance was operating illegally in Nigeria. They may face charges related to currency manipulation, tax evasion, and illegal operations, although formal charges have not been filed yet.

There have been reports suggesting that the Nigerian government, citing Binance’s involvement in manipulating foreign exchange rates through currency speculation and rate fixing, has intensified its scrutiny by demanding nearly $10 billion in compensation. However, both Nigeria and Binance have denied these claims regarding the fine.

The ongoing legal dispute between the world’s largest crypto platform and Africa’s top crypto market remains unresolved. Recently, Nigeria’s parliament escalated the situation by threatening to issue a warrant of arrest for the company’s executives. Additionally, they summoned Binance CEO Richard Teng to provide explanations regarding investigations into alleged involvement in money laundering and terror financing, as reported by local sources.