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Report: FG asks Binance to provide 6-month transaction data of top 100 users

BY Busola Aro

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The federal government has asked Binance for information on its top 100 users in the country, as well as all transaction history for the past six months, the Financial Times is reporting.

The request, according to the report on Tuesday, is at the centre of negotiations between Binance and Nigeria.

Two of Binance’s top executives have been in the custody of Nigerian authorities for the past three weeks.

In February 2024, Bayo Onanuga, special adviser to President Bola Tinubu on information and strategy, said Binance and other crypto platforms should be banned from operating in Nigeria.

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Onanuga had accused Binance of “blatantly setting exchange rate for Nigeria,” and hijacking the role of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

On February 27, Olayemi Cardoso, governor of the CBN, said $26 billion passed through Binance from unidentified sources.

Cardoso said the apex bank was collaborating with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and security agencies to ensure there is no manipulation in the foreign exchange (FX) market.

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On March 8, the crypto firm discontinued all transactions in naira on its exchange platform, following reports that the government demanded $10 billion as retribution for profiting from “its illegal transactions” in Nigeria.

In the meantime, the office of the national security adviser (ONSA) in Nigeria is requesting that the exchange settle any unpaid tax obligations, according to documents obtained by the Financial Times.

The federal government seeks to restore confidence in the naira as well as ensure stability in the FX rate.

‘DETENTION EXTENDED BEYOND COURT ORDER’

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Meanwhile, the two detained executives have been identified as Nadeem Anjarwalla, a 37-year-old United Kingdom and Kenyan national and Binance’s regional manager for Africa; and Tigran Gambaryan, a 39-year-old United States citizen and Binance’s head of financial crime compliance.

Anjarwalla and Gambaryan had flown into Nigeria but had their passports seized by the ONSA.

According to Financial Times, the executives, who are being held at a guest house in Abuja adjacent to the national security adviser’s office, also had their phones seized upon their detention but have not been charged with any offence.

Citing court documents, the report said the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was permitted to detain both Binance executives for 14 days – a period that ended on Tuesday but has extended till Wednesday.

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Elahe Anjarwalla, wife of Binance’s regional manager, said she had been left frustrated by a perceived lack of action from the British government.

The regional manager was said to have fallen ill while in detention.

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“After two weeks we are no closer to understanding why they are being held and how much longer this nightmare will last,” she said.

“The Foreign Office is the first point of help to reach out to and it’s been much less proactive than I expected.”

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Anjarwalla also said she was told that the foreign office was drafting an information request to Nigeria after his detention.

She was advised on Monday but had not yet been sent.

“We are supporting a British man detained in Nigeria and are in contact with the local authorities,” the foreign office told Anjarwalla’s wife.

The ONSA also said law enforcement agencies would be given space and time to undertake their work, adding that “outcomes will be made public in due course.”

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