Court orders Binance to provide data of Nigerian users to EFCC

A FEDERAL High Court in Abuja has ordered Binance, a cryptocurrency exchange platform, to provide data of its Nigerian users to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The judge, Emeka Nwite, gave the interim order after ruling on the ex-parte motion moved by the EFCC’s lawyer, Ekele Iheanacho.

The application was filed on February 29.


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

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), a certified true copy of the ruling delivered on February 29 was sighted on Monday, March 18, and the interim order was issued to help the EFCC investigate money laundering claims and terrorism financing against the platform.

An EFCC agent, Hamma Bello, stated in the affidavit supporting the motion that he was a member of the commission’s Special Investigation Team (SIT) based in the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).

Bello said that the SIT was notified of the illicit activities (money laundering and financing of terrorism) of Binance after the ONSA established the Technical Committee on Currency Stability and Forex Manipulation.

“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.

“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 on the activities of Nigerians on their platform.

“That from the information afforded to the team by Binance shows that the total trading volume from Nigeria in 2023 alone stood at $21.6 billion,” Bello said in the ex-parte motion marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/259/2024.

He also stated that the group discovered some individuals whose actions on Binance caused the nation’s currency to depreciate, compared with ther currencies.

Bello argued that the information would help the panel complete its inquiry and that the issue was of public interest.

He said granting the application was in the best interest of justice and doing otherwise would impede the commission’s investigations.

The ICIR reported on March 5 that Binance has pulled its services out of Nigeria.

The platform asked Nigerians trading on it to remove all their naira assets, indicating that it is terminating its services in the country.

The Federal Government has been taking harsh measures against Binance management recently. 

In response to the severe actions taken against it by the Nigerian government, Binance, on Tuesday, March 5, deleted all assets linked to the naira.

Binance’s CEO, Changpeng Zhao, was threatened with an arrest order on Monday, March 4, by the House of Representatives.






     

     

    This was after the ONSA had arrested two executives from Binance in Nigeria in the preceding week while responding to an invitation from the Nigerian government.

    The company’s representatives were summoned to testify before the House committee but did not respond.

    The committee’s chairperson, Ginger Onwusibe, stated that the members had decided not to receive any representation from anyone other than the Binance executives.

    The government has asked the cryptocurrency platform to pay $10 billion to settle claims that it manipulated foreign exchange rates and depreciated the value of the naira relative to the dollar.

     

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