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Court orders Binance to give data of Nigerian users to EFCC

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Representation of cryptocurrency Binance Coin the native token of the cryptocurrency exchange is seen in this illustration taken November 29 2021

A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered Binance Holdings Limited to supply the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission with detailed information on all Nigerian traders on its platform.

The court issued the order in response to an ex-parte application filed by the EFCC seeking information regarding Nigerian traders on Binance.

According to the anti-graft agency, the suit, FHC/ABJ/CS/259/2024, was filed on February 29 under Sections 6(b), (h), (I), 7(1), (a)(2), and 38 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Establishment Act, 2004 and Section 15 of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022 (as amended).

In an affidavit in support of the motion filed by an EFCC operative, Hamma Bello, he stated that the commission’s Special Investigation Team, based in the Office of the National Security Adviser, received intelligence that money laundering and terrorism financing were taking place on Binance.

He said, “The Special Investigation Team of the commission domiciled in the Office of the National Security Adviser received an intelligence report stating the nefarious activities (money laundering and terrorism financing) on Binance, a cryptocurrency exchange platform.

“On receipt of the intelligence, the team began an investigation by conducting surveillance of the activities of the platform.

“The team uncovered users who have been using the platform for price discovery, confirmation, and market manipulation, which has caused tremendous distortions in the market, resulting in the Naira losing its value against other currencies.”

Bello further stated that the team discovered several users whose activities on Binance caused the country’s currency to lose value relative to other currencies.

He said, “The team uncovered users who have been using the platform for price discovery, confirmation, and market manipulation, which has caused tremendous distortions in the market, resulting in the Naira losing its value against other currencies.

“That the damage the platform has caused was clearly explained to the operators of the platform, and they were requested to delist the Naira and avail the ONSA of the activities of the Nigerians on their platform.

“That, from the information afforded to the team by Binance, shows trading volume from Nigeria in 2023 alone stood at $21.6bn.

“Attached and marked as Exhibit EFCC 1 is a copy of the document from Binance to the ONSA stating this fact, amongst others.

“That the commission will ensure that the investigation is conducted within such reasonable time,”

Bello added that the requested information will help the panel complete its inquiry.

According to a certified authentic copy of the verdict, which was given on February 29 but obtained by journalists on Monday, Justice Emeka Nwite granted the interim order.

Nwite said, “The applicant’s application dated and filed on February 29, 2024, is hereby granted as prayed for.

“That an order of this honourable court is hereby made directing the operators of Binance to provide the commission with comprehensive data and information relating to all persons from Nigeria trading on its platform.”

Binance is an online exchange where users can trade cryptocurrencies.

Olayemi Cardoso, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, revealed during a press briefing following the 293rd meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee in Abuja in February that more than $26 billion was channelled via Binance without trace in the last year.

The Financial Times reported on February 28 that two corporate executives were arrested and imprisoned after flying into the country as a result of a website restriction.

According to the FT, on March 12, 2024, the EFCC requested that Binance give data on its top 100 Nigerian users, as well as all transaction information for the previous six months.

According to the article, the request is key to Binance’s negotiations with Nigeria.

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