The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has fined 3 Nigerian commercial banks a total of $1.9 million for failing to comply with regulations prohibiting consumers from transacting in cryptocurrencies.
As previously reported in this publication, the ongoing 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 affected banks include:
- Stanbic IBTC Bank – $480, 207
- Access Bank PLC – $1.2 million
- United Bank for Africa – $240, 103
Stanbic IBTC Bank was fined $480,207 for two accounts alleged to have been used for crypto transactions, even though the Bank’s CEO, Wole Adeniyi, told its investors the transactions it was sanctioned for may have passed through its system undetected.
Nigeria’s biggest lender by assets, Access Bank PLC, was fined $1.2 million for failure to close customers’ crypto accounts while United Bank for Africa PLC incurred a $240,103 penalty for digital-currency transactions by a customer.
Additionally, Stanbic CEO, Wole Adeniyi, disclosed that the CBN was able to detect the relevant transactions using an ‘advanced capability’ that Nigerian lenders do not have access to adding that they have asked the central bank to share the technology.
In the circular dated February 5, 2021, CBN bank warned and reminded local financial institutions against having any transactions in crypto or facilitating payments for crypto exchanges.
Before the circular in February 2021, CBN had in January 2017 said digital currencies such as bitcoin, litecoin, and others are largely used in terrorism financing and money laundering considering the anonymity of virtual transactions.
Interestingly, the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has similarly warned Kenyan banks to stay away from crypto transactions saying that financial institutions that violate this directive will have their licenses revoked.