• When they arrived in Nigeria, two Binance executives had their passports confiscated by Nigerian officials.
  • Last year, the Securities regulator stated that the crypto exchange was not authorized to operate in the country.

Media outlets report that Nigeria detained two executives from Binance Crypto Exchange after they flew in to the country.

Bloomberg reported that the two were arrested by the Office of the National Security Adviser in Nigeria and their passports seized. They had been invited to Nigeria by officials and intercepted on the ground because Binance was operating illegally.

Bloomberg reported that the executives were not charged but could be accused of currency manipulation, tax fraud and illegal operations.

Zakari Mijinyawa told Bloomberg that “it is not an arrest per se”. Meetings and discussions continue. The issue is one of national security and there’s an interagency approach.

Media outlets reported that on Tuesday, Olayemi Cardoso, the central bank governor, claimed Binance Nigeria had moved 26 billion dollars in untraceable money.

Cardoso stated at the time, “We are worried that certain practices take place that indicate illicit flow through a number these entities at best and suspicious flow at worst.”

The FT reported that Cardoso said Nigeria’s anticorruption agency and police had begun investigating crypto exchanges. A person familiar with the issue told the newspaper that the agencies wanted to see a list containing past and current Binance Nigeria users.

The Securities and Exchange Commission of Nigeria said that Binance Nigeria is not allowed to operate within the country.

Binance and the Office of the National Security Advisor did not respond to requests for comment.

Sheldon Reback is the editor.