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CBN fines Nigerian Banks N800 million for facilitating cryptocurrency transactions

by Emmanuel Ogundele
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The Central Bank of Nigeria has fined three Nigerian commercial banks a total of N800 million for failing to comply with regulations prohibiting consumers from transacting in cryptocurrencies.

According to Bloomberg, the sanctions are part of the CBN’s efforts to tighten down on cryptocurrency, ensuring that commercial restrictions on cryptocurrency trading are in place. It was also revealed that the CBN has the ability to detect cryptocurrency transactions that commercial banks may have overlooked.

According to the report, Access Bank Plc, the country’s largest lender by total asset, was fined N500 million for failing to shut down customers’ crypto accounts.

United Bank for Africa Plc was fined N100 million naira for a customer’s digital-currency transactions.

CBN penalized Stanbic IBTC Bank, the local unit of Standard Bank Group Ltd., N200 million for two accounts allegedly used for crypto transactions.

Chief Executive Officer of Stanbic IBTC, Wole Adeniyi disclosed at an investor conference call in Lagos that while Stanbic IBTC followed the central bank’s orders, the transactions for which it was sanctioned may have passed through its system undetected.

He said the CBN was able to detect the relevant transactions using “advanced capacity” that Nigerian lenders do not have access to, and they have urged the central bank to share the technology.

“It doesn’t seem that they are going to entertain a refund, but they are now sharing intelligence with us to be able to kind of deter clients,” Adeniyi added.

Since the ban in 2021, Cryptocurrency players have relied largely on peer-to-peer transactions to bypass banking restrictions. To avoid being caught, narrations that accompany the purpose of online transfers are advised not to include terms that could be construed as related to cryptocurrency transactions.

Meanwhile, it would be recalled that in February 2021, Nigeria’s Central Bank notified Deposit Money Banks, Non-Financial Institutions, and other financial institutions against doing business in Crypto and other digital assets.

In the circular dated 5th February 2021 the apex bank warned and reminded local financial institutions against having any transactions in crypto or facilitating payments for crypto exchanges.

In addition, the apex bank instructed the financial institutions to immediately close the accounts of such persons or entities transacting in or operating cryptocurrency exchanges.

The CBN also warned that breaches to the directive “will attract severe regulatory sanctions” instructing that the letter was with immediate effect.”

Crypto Enthusiast kicked against the policy last year claiming the central bank was denying young Nigerians of an important source of making money citing forex controls as a reason.

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