Nigeria fines Binance $10b in forex-rate manipulation probe

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Binance faces another hefty fine following $4.3 billion paid to U.S. authorities as part of a plea settlement with the Department of Justice.

Nigeria’s government is imposing a $10 billion sanction on crypto exchange Binance as the African country investigates suspected foreign exchange rate manipulation tied to the naira currency, special adviser Bayo Onanuga confirmed in a Mar. 1 BBC interview.

The fine follows the arrest of two company executives sent to negotiate with authorities after officials disclosed plans to ban the crypto firm. 

Local officials refused to disclose the identities of the Binance representatives, but reports say one is an American and the other is British. Both crypto exchange negotiators reportedly asked to be moved to their respective embassies.

A source close to the matter said enforcement agencies secured a court warrant allowing Nigeria’s government to hold the two persons for up to 12 days.

The crypto exchange crackdown ensued following government accusations that Binance facilitated illicit transactions and could not account for $26 billion in money flows. Furthermore, Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said the platform has operated without a license and refused to comply with regulatory requirements. 

Authorities have demanded naira-related transaction data from Binance for the last seven years, and according to the Premium Times, a request was made to delete specific Nigerian information from the trading venue.

P2P trading was also disabled on the crypto exchange, while some users have reported being unable to access Binance facilities. 

One user told they had just traded naira for Tether’s USDT on P2P to pay for social media services before their login was revoked. The trader preferred to remain anonymous amid uncertainty around the extent of Nigeria’s clampdown. 

Other crypto-forex trading sites like Coinbase and Kraken also fell under Nigeria’s ban, as internet service providers were instructed to block access to these platforms. However, Coinbase pushed back on the decision and is conducting internal investigations.

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