Nigeria's SEC Updates Guidelines for Crypto Firms in Bid to Stop Criminal Activity: Report

Nigeria's government has started a fresh crackdown on crypto firms, reportedly blocking access to several, including Binance, Coinbase and Kraken.

AccessTimeIconMar 7, 2024 at 12:17 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 8, 2024 at 10:51 p.m. UTC
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  • Nigeria has updated its guidelines for crypto service providers in a bid to stop criminality.
  • The development comes after Nigeria's government took steps to block local access to several crypto platforms.

Nigeria's securities watchdog is updating its guidelines for crypto service providers to block "criminals" from engaging with capital markets, Nigerian daily newspaper The Punch reported Thursday.

The report, which cites documents from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of Nigeria, follows headlines from February that Nigeria's government had blocked local access to several crypto platforms, including Binance, Kraken and Coinbase. Coinbase said at the time that it remained accessible and did not immediately respond to a CoinDesk request for comment on the current status.

In the past two weeks, reports emerged that Nigeria's government has demanded $10 billion from Binance in penalties for enabling some $26 billion of untraceable funds to be processed in the country. The SEC last year issued warnings that the exchange's activities in the country were illegal. Last month, two Binance executives were detained after they flew to Nigeria on the government's invitation.

The new SEC guidance would ensure “criminals are not registered as operators” in the capital market, the report said, although it's unclear how criminality would be assessed.

The guidance – which includes a manual on anti-money laundering (AML) measures and rules on combating the financing of terrorism (CFT) – is to ensure criminals won't gain entry into the country’s capital market, according to The Punch.

“The SEC has also developed new AML/CFT/CPF onboarding manual for licensing/registration and ongoing screening of Digital and VASP Beneficial Owners to ensure that criminals are not registered as operators in the capital market," an SEC notice from March 4 reportedly said.

"The SEC is ready to interface with genuine VASPs based on these clear rules and regulations,” and before final approvals, the SEC will consult on its proposed measures.

Despite its most recent crackdown on the crypto space, the Central Bank of Nigeria recently reversed a measure that blocked local banks from providing services and accounts to crypto firms.

Camomile Shumba contributed reporting.

Edited by Sandali Handagama.

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Amitoj Singh

Amitoj Singh is a CoinDesk reporter.


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