EFCC Freezes Bank Accounts of 1,146 Crypto Traders Amid Naira Weakness


Nigerian crypto merchants and traders were met with anxiety as the country’s fiat currency, the naira, exhibited renewed weakness in the foreign-exchange market last week. These fears materialized as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency, reportedly froze the bank accounts of 1,146 crypto traders, according to court documents obtained by DL News on Monday.

The affected crypto traders are facing allegations ranging from foreign-exchange racketeering and currency manipulation to money laundering and terrorism financing. Disturbingly, the EFCC may impede customers’ attempts to retrieve their funds, even if court orders permit them to do so. The freeze, mandated until the conclusion of the EFCC’s investigation, grants the agency a 90-day window to complete its probe.

Since the beginning of the year, the EFCC has been part of an interagency task force investigating alleged naira manipulation by crypto traders. The investigation initially targeted Binance, linking the crypto exchange to the naira’s unprecedented decline earlier in the year. Subsequently, the commission pressed charges against Binance and two of its executives for money laundering offenses.

In a separate development, Nigeria secured a substantial investment of $600 million in seaport infrastructure from Danish shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk. President Bola Tinubu sealed the deal during discussions with Moller-Maersk Chairman Robert Maersk Uggla on the sidelines of a World Economic Forum gathering in Saudi Arabia. Uggla expressed confidence in Nigeria, affirming the investment would enhance existing port facilities to accommodate larger vessels.

President Tinubu underscored his administration’s commitment to modernizing and automating Nigerian ports to alleviate congestion, streamline trade processes, curb corruption, and enhance efficiency. Tinubu emphasized Nigeria’s potential for revenue expansion and stressed the need to minimize trans-shipments between ships of varying sizes.

In a related development, it was announced that Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, are scheduled to visit Nigeria in May to discuss the Invictus Games. Founded by Prince Harry in 2014, the Invictus Games aim to aid the rehabilitation of wounded and sick servicemembers and veterans. Nigeria participated in last year’s edition of the games, highlighting the significance of the visit in light of the country’s ongoing battle against Islamic extremists in its northeastern region.

Prince Harry’s impending visit to Nigeria is expected to follow a commemorative service at London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral, marking the 10th anniversary of the Invictus Games. The trip underscores Prince Harry’s enduring commitment to supporting wounded veterans and promoting global collaboration in their rehabilitation efforts.

Robert Samms
News Desk

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