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6 Mar, 2024 09:34

Crypto giant to exit Nigerian market

The West African nation’s authorities are investigating Binance and others for alleged terrorism financing and money laundering
Crypto giant to exit Nigerian market

Major global cryptocurrency exchange Binance has announced that it will halt all transactions and trading in Nigeria’s local currency, the naira (NGN), after Friday. The firm did not provide a reason for the decision, but it has recently been embroiled in regulatory disputes with the West African nation’s authorities.

Binance Auto-Invest will delist NGN and remove the currency from the list of supported payment options on its platform after Wednesday, the company said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Users are encouraged to withdraw NGN, trade their NGN assets or convert NGN into crypto prior to the discontinuation of these NGN services,” it said.

The authorities in Nigeria have launched a major crackdown on cryptocurrency exchanges, accusing them of promoting a black market for foreign exchange and destabilizing the naira. The currency fell to an all-time low of around 1,600 against the US dollar in late February, according to LSEG (London Stock Exchange Group).

Late last month, the government blocked access to several major cryptocurrency platforms, including Binance, OctaFX, and Coinbase. Binance confirmed that some of its clients in Africa’s most populous country had been experiencing difficulties accessing its website.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has also flagged Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, for alleged terrorism financing and money laundering. Last week, CBN governor Olayemi Cardoso told reporters that the Nigerian anti-corruption agency and police are working together to investigate crypto markets. According to him, $26 billion has passed through Binance Nigeria in the last year alone, coming from sources and users that the authorities cannot “adequately identify.”

Two Binance senior executives, who reportedly flew to Abuja last week following their company’s website block, have been detained by Nigeria’s national security.

In recent months, the company has come under increasing scrutiny from authorities worldwide. Its founder, Changpeng Zhao, is scheduled to be sentenced in April after pleading guilty in a US court last November to a charge of violating anti-money laundering regulations, which resulted in a $4 billion fine.