Misinformation Alert: Binance Not Facing $10B Fine, Nigerian Government Confirms

March 3, 2024

Last week, allegations surfaced, claiming a $10 billion fine was imposed upon Binance after the detention of two senior executives by Nigerian authorities. Yet, a Nigerian government official,  released a resolute statement decisively debunking claims of a multi-billion-dollar penalty and emphasizing that his remarks had been misconstrued.

Bayo Onanuga, President of Nigeria’s Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, clarified that he never asserted Binance had been formally notified of any fine or that Nigerian regulators had concluded such penalties. 

“I said our government may impose heavy fines on Binance for what happened,” Onanuga stated to a local news outlet. “I never said Binance had been informed about the fines or that it would definitely be $10 billion. I only said the amount may be imposed, which is because nothing has been finalized yet.”

This clarification followed a BBC report stating, “The Nigerian government says it has demanded almost $10 billion in compensation from the cryptocurrency firm, Binance.” However, a Binance official swiftly countered, denying any talks with the Nigerian government regarding potential fines of such magnitude.

“We recently discussed ways to resolve issues with Nigeria, but we did not hear any demand for $10 billion,” the CEX’s official said, before adding, “Our aim is to chart a good relationship with the government and the people of Nigeria. We want to see our services restored in Nigeria very soon, but we have no intention of paying fines for personnel or services.”

Amidst a foreign exchange crisis, Nigeria struggles with the depreciation of the naira, the local currency, reaching unprecedented lows last Wednesday. In response, the government explores strategies to curtail outflows, including levies on expat workers.

Renewed discussions on crypto restrictions have also surfaced, garnering attention as reports suggest access to certain crypto exchanges, including Binance, has been impeded within the country. Following this,  two senior executives at Binance flew to Nigeria following the country’s decision to ban several cryptocurrency trading websites.

However, they were detained by the office of the country’s national security adviser and their passports seized, Financial Times reported last week, citing “people familiar with the matter” as the source of information. Last week, Nigeria’s central bank governor Olayemi Cardoso said Binance Nigeria had moved $26bn worth of untraceable funds.

“We are concerned that certain practices go on that indicate illicit flows going through a number of these entities and suspicious flows at best. In the case of Binance, in the last year alone, $26 billion has passed through Binance Nigeria from sources and users who we cannot adequately identify,” the central bank governor said.

As Nigeria grapples with these challenges, Binance faces additional pressure in its efforts to rebuild internal structures following settlements with U.S. authorities for prior legal infractions, which include paying a $4.3 billion penalty.

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