CBN hits banks with N800 million fine for flouting directive on crypto accounts


The Central Bank of Nigeria has penalised three banks a total of N800 million for flouting its regulation on cryptocurrency accounts.

 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.

 The banks include Stanbic IBTC, Access Bank, and United Bank for Africa (UBA).

The CBN had in February 2021 ordered all banks to close accounts of anyone who transacts in cryptocurrency.

In the circular released to deposit money banks (DMB), non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs), and other financial institutions (OFIs), the apex bank noted that disobedience to the directive would attract severe penalties.

The development elicited reactions from Nigerians, but CBN, in a 5-page circular, explained that cryptocurrencies portend the risk of loss of investments, money laundering, terrorism financing, illicit fund flows and criminal activities in the country.

 In a report by Bloomberg on Wednesday Stanbic Bank was fined N200 million for two accounts alleged to have been used for crypto accounts.

Access Bank was fined N500 million for failure to close customers’ crypto accounts; UBA was fined N100 million

Stanbic IBTC told Bloomberg that it had followed the CBN directive but that some transactions may have passed through its system undetected.

In addition, the CBN had in November directed banks to close the accounts of two individuals and a company for allegedly trading in cryptocurrencies.

Despite these regulations, Nigeria, according to Paxful, a Bitcoin marketplace, accounts for the largest volume of cryptocurrency transactions outside the U.S.

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