Nigeria Detains Binance Executives as It Investigates the Crypto Exchange: Reports

The detentions are not necessarily arrests, a National Security spokesman told Bloomberg.

AccessTimeIconFeb 29, 2024 at 4:37 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 8, 2024 at 10:25 p.m. UTC
  • Two Binance executives were intercepted by Nigerian officials and their passports seized when they landed in the country.
  • The crypto exchange did not have permission to operate in the country, the securities regulator said last year.

Nigeria has detained two executives of the Binance crypto exchange after they flew into the country, media outlets reported.

The two were detained by the country's Office of the National Security Adviser and their passports seized, the Financial Times reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The two had been invited by Nigeria to meet officials, and were intercepted when they landed on the grounds that Binance had been operating in the country illegally, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.

The executives have not been charged, but could face allegations of currency manipulation, tax evasion and illegal operations, Bloomberg reported.

“It is not necessarily arrest per say,” Zakari Mijinyawa, a spokesman for the National Security Adviser told Bloomberg. “Meetings and discussions are ongoing. It’s a national security issue and an interagency process is on.”

On Tuesday, central bank Governor Olayemi Cardoso claimed Binance Nigeria moved $26 billion dollars worth of untraceable funds, media outlets reported.

"We are concerned that certain practices go on that indicate illicit flows going through a number of these entities and suspicious flows at best," Cardoso said at the time.

According to Cardoso, Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency, police and national security adviser had started investigating crypto exchanges, the FT reported. The agencies want to see a list of past and present Binance Nigeria users, a person familiar with the matter told the newspaper.

Last year, the country's Securities and Exchange Commission said Binance Nigeria was not authorized to operate in the country.

Neither Binance nor the Office of the National Security Adviser responded to emails seeking comment.

Edited by Sheldon Reback.


Please note that our privacy policy, terms of use, cookies, and do not sell my personal information has been updated.

CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

Camomile Shumba

Camomile Shumba is a CoinDesk regulatory reporter based in the UK. She previously worked as an intern for Business Insider and Bloomberg News. She does not currently hold value in any digital currencies or projects.