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Nigerian Court Orders Binance User Data in Money Laundering Probe

In a move with significant implications for the cryptocurrency industry in Africa, a Nigerian court has ordered Binance, a leading cryptocurrency exchange, to hand over user data to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The EFCC is investigating allegations of money laundering, terrorism financing, and market manipulation on the platform.

Court Grants Access to User Information

Justice Emeka Nwite of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court granted an ex parte motion filed by the EFCC, compelling Binance to provide “comprehensive data/information relating to all persons from Nigeria trading on its platform.” This decision gives the EFCC access to potentially millions of user records.

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EFCC Raises Concerns About Illicit Activity

The EFCC’s affidavit, submitted by Hamma Bello, alleges that Binance is being used for illicit activities. Bello claims the agency has received intelligence suggesting money laundering, terrorism financing, and even price manipulation schemes that are impacting the value of the Nigerian Naira. The affidavit states that Binance was previously notified of these concerns and urged to cooperate by delisting the Naira and providing user data.

Nigerian Trading Volume on Binance Reaches Billions

According to data presented by the EFCC, Nigerian trading volume on Binance in 2023 alone amounted to a staggering $21.6 billion. This immense volume highlights the growing importance of cryptocurrency in Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy.

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Tech Expert Warns of Negative Economic Impact

The court order has drawn criticism from some quarters. Bright Johnson, a Lagos-based tech analyst specializing in cryptocurrency growth, argues that the Nigerian government is scapegoating cryptocurrency exchanges for the country’s economic woes, including the devaluation of the Naira and high inflation rates exceeding 20%.

Johnson contends that detaining Binance executives and targeting the crypto industry will deter investment and harm the economy in the long run. He suggests the government should focus on deeper policy issues and macroeconomic factors impacting the Naira’s value.

The Future of Crypto in Nigeria Uncertain

The court’s decision and the EFCC’s investigation cast a shadow of uncertainty over the future of cryptocurrency in Nigeria. While the government seeks to address concerns about money laundering and financial crime, critics warn that heavy-handed tactics could stifle innovation and investment in the burgeoning crypto sector.

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