Cryptocurrency firm Binance said today it was selling its Russia business, months after reports suggested US authorities were investigating possible sanctions violations.
Bloomberg reported in May that the US Department of Justice was looking into claims Russians had used Binance to skirt US sanctions imposed over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
The firm, which has faced severe regulatory hurdles across the world, has previously denied breaking sanctions but in a statement on Wednesday said it was making a “full exit” from the Russian market.
“As we look toward the future, we recognise that operating in Russia is not compatible with Binance’s compliance strategy,” chief compliance officer Noah Perlman said in a statement.
The firm said the process would take a year to complete and would involve selling its assets to CommEX, a company that only launched on Tuesday.
– Iran controversy –
In a message on X, formerly Twitter, reacting to the Binance deal, CommEX said: “A hearty welcome to our new users from Russia and around the world!”
CommEX has a website and channels on the Telegram messaging app in Russian and English, but its representatives on Telegram deflected questions from users about its ownership and where it was based.
The firm did not immediately respond to an AFP request for comment.
Binance runs crypto exchanges and provides other services across the world but it has taken a severe hit since crypto markets collapsed and regulators began probing the legality of its business.
In November last year, the firm admitted its exchange had “interacted” with “bad actors” in Iran after Reuters reports alleged it had helped move billions of dollars in defiance of US sanctions.
Binance was founded in 2017 in China by Canadian national Changpeng Zhao but following a crypto crackdown by Beijing, he moved its operations to locations including Singapore, Bahrain, Dubai, Paris and the Cayman Islands.
BANKRUPT Sri Lanka’s economic recovery was “not yet assured”, the International Monetary Fund warned Wednesday, after the first review of its $2.9 billion bailout aimed at repairing the island nation’s ruined finances.
The Washington-based lender of last resort said Sri Lanka had been unable to meet its revenue targets and ensure growth although it had tamed runaway inflation.
“Despite early signs of stabilisation, full economic recovery is not yet assured,” the IMF said.
Last year’s economic crash sparked dire food, fuel and medicine shortages, as well as months of civil unrest that eventually toppled then-president Gotabaya Rajapaksa.
His successor Ranil Wickremesinghe has raised taxes and removed energy subsidies, but the IMF said state revenue was still below expectations.
An IMF delegation wrapped up their two-week mission to Sri Lanka without an announcement on releasing the second tranche of $330 million.
Colombo had expected that funding to be signed over at the end of the latest talks.
But the IMF said it was still reviewing “financing assurances” from external creditors on restructuring Sri Lanka’s bilateral and private debt.
Colombo is in discussion with its private creditors to restructure Sri Lanka’s international sovereign bonds, after defaulting on its $46 billion foreign debt in April 2022.
Talks are underway with bilateral lenders and part of the domestic debt has already been restructured.
China, which accounts for 52 percent of the island’s bilateral debt, has not made its position on restructuring public, but has agreed to support Colombo.
Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki has allegedly asked his deputy Philip Shaibu to publicly drop his ambition to run for the 2024 state governorship poll or be excluded from all government activities, including the state Executive Council meetings.
The governor, who is from Edo South Senatorial district, and Shaibu (from Edo North) are reportedly at loggerheads over the latter’s ambition.
Obaseki allegedly supports Asue Ighodalo, a lawyer from Edo Central and chairman of the Board of Trustees of Alaghodaro, an annual investment drive by the state government.
Shaibu has, however, insisted that he would partake in the governorship election.
According to The Nation, Obaseki held the state’s weekly executive council meeting/ retreat in Lagos without Shaibu.
Obaseki allegedly sent the deputy governor to Abuja, apparently to get him away from the meeting/retreat.
The two-day retreat for newly-appointed Edo commissioners and other top officials of the government was tagged: “Exco Retreat with Mr. Governor.”
An Obaseki ally, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the retreat was a yearly ritual for strategic events to brainstorm on the programmes of the government and set an agenda for the coming year.
It was gathered that during the retreat, Obaseki told members of his cabinet that should Shaibu dare to participate in the Peoples Democratic Party governorship primaries, his security vote and participation in government activities would be halted.
A source said: “Obaseki surreptitiously sent Shaibu to represent him in two Abuja events, while he (Edo governor) went to a Lagos resort, along with his commissioners and heads of Edo Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), to hold the state’s weekly exco meeting, without any prior notice to Shaibu on either the change of exco meeting’s day or venue.
“Obaseki’s decision to send his deputy on a wild-goose chase to Abuja is connected to his (Edo governor’s) decision to ensure that his deputy could not justifiably argue that he was deliberately schemed out of the Lagos exco meeting when he was also on state assignments.
“Shaibu was deliberately not informed of any decision to hold the exco meeting on Monday instead of the usual Wednesday or that it would be taken to Lagos.
“Notice of the meeting was kept top secret and deliberately shielded from the deputy to ensure that even if he managed to return to Benin City from his Abuja assignments before the end of the meeting, he would not be able to attend.
“Edo governor does not want his deputy to be with him at the Lagos exco meeting and retreat until he is able to meet all conditions set for reconciliation, one of which is that he must publicly renounce his governorship ambition, for Obaseki to consolidate on his choice of Asue Ighodalo as his successor.”
The Federal Government has urged the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to reduce the number of Bureau de Change (BDC) operating in the country from over 5,000 to about 200.
This statement was made by the Special Adviser to President Tinubu on Economic Affairs, Tope Fasua during an economic policy event organized by the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Tope Fasua noted that the high number of BDCs in operation makes it difficult for the CBN to supervise them, which eventually leads to irregularities in the forex market.
According to the Presidential Aide,
- “We need to do some structural reforms. For example, I believe we should reform the BDCs’ sector, and make them stronger.
- You can’t manage over 5,000 BDCs selling money on the streets, it is not normal. You have to define the illegal market and by then, we will be able to find stability.
- We cannot manage 5,000 BDCs, maybe we should be looking at 100 or 200. In the United Kingdom as a tourism destination, they have 145 BDCs the last time I checked. In the UAE they have 130.
- So what are we doing with 5,000 BDCs? You will never be able to supervise them. How many staff would you need to look at their returns and check them?
He also advised that more structures need to be put in place to enable the BDCs and Banks to provide easy access to forex by Nigerians.
- “If we can do the structural reforms in the BDCs sector and the banks and supervise them well, the CBN with the reserves that we have can incentivize that sector, allowing people to get the money much quicker.”
What You Should Know
Nairametrics recently reported that the Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) – which is the umbrella body of all BDC Operators in Nigeria – had asked CBN to increase the minimum capital requirement of forex traders to do business from the present N35 million to N350 million ($454,888).
The association also recommended a merger for its members to allow them to boost their capacity in handling diaspora remittances or any other funds sent from abroad to enable them to channel the foreign exchange to shops and small businesses.
There was drama when the House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee investigating the slow pace and controversies surrounding the alleged re-award of the Ijebu-Igbo-Ibadan road project commenced hearing.
The Hon. Kwamoti Bitrus Laori ad hoc committee had last Thursday, visited the project site in Ibadan, Oyo State, and parts of Ogun State before inviting the Federal Ministry of Works and the contractor for a meeting with the lawmakers on Tuesday.
During the investigative hearing, the lawmakers requested the representatives of the Ministry of Works to explain the re-award of the ongoing Ijebu-Igbo-Ibadan road project (about 45km) to another company when the original contractor was still on site.
Engr. Adedamola Kuti, Director, Highway (South West), Federal Ministry of Works, had told the probe panel during its inaugural sitting on September 7, 2023, that the said contract being handled by DC Engineering Ltd had been terminated since September 2022 and re-awarded to two other companies. He then promised the lawmakers to make a copy of the termination letter available to them within 72 hours.
However, about three weeks later, neither Kuti nor any official of the ministry was able to make a copy of the termination letter available. The ministry officials were also unable to provide any letter regarding the approval by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) authorizing the re-award of the project to another contractor at N54 billion. They did not also provide any piece of information regarding the bidding process.
Engr. Ade Adedeji, Executive Director, DC Engineering Ltd, told the committee that he did not receive any letter of termination of contract from the ministry, stating that their equipment and workers are still on the project site. He said the same ministry had certified their work and just paid them last month, August 2023.
He, however, expressed concern about how the officials of the ministry ignored their request for the review of the projects due to the rising cost of materials from N9.8 billion to at least N14 billion but went ahead to re-award the same project to another contractor at N54 billion.
When the lawmakers asked the representatives of the Ministry of Works, led by Engr. Agboola Olajide, Deputy Director, Highway, to justify the re-award of the project, there was confusion among them. Olajide later said the termination letter had not been issued, but the project has been rewarded to another contractor, Areatech Construction Ltd, since September 2022. He noted that it is the duty of the legal department to issue such a letter. The lawmakers queried his assertion, noting that all the departments in the ministry were supposed to work in synergy.
When the lawmakers also asked why the ministry certified the work done in May 2023 by DC Engineering and still paid them in August 2023 instead of seeking means of recovering money given to the contractor, the deputy director echoed what his boss Kuti earlier told the committee during its inaugural sitting on September 7, 2023, that it was an automated payment by computer. However, a check by our correspondent indicates that before any payment is authorized by the Ministry of Works, it goes through offices headed by directors and deputy directors; these include planning, audit, checking, CPO and finance department.
The Ijebu-Igbo-Ibadan road project was awarded to DC Engineering Ltd in 2018. It was expected to be completed within 24 months (2020) but from the documents made available to the ad hoc committee, only about 15 per cent (N1.3 billion) of the contract sum (N9.8 billion) was paid to the company from 2018 to 2023 by the ministry, a situation many attributed to the slow pace of the work.
During the inspection of the project by the lawmakers last Thursday, it was observed that a company, Duhu & Sons Construction, was handling 7km out of the 45km road. The company was awarded 14km and mobilized in 2011, but it was reviewed to 7km in 2013 and still paid some money. After five years of neglect, 45km was awarded to DC Engineering, inclusive of that of Duhu & Sons.
On 23rd December 2019, the ministry reduced DC Engineering’s job by 7km, reduced the contract sum from N9.8 billion to N8.8 billion and still re-awarded the 7km to Duhu & Sons.
When the lawmakers inspected, only the bridge had been constructed with a partial width of asphalt in some places, and some portions of the road had failed. Engr. Olajide claimed that the company did 3.7km, but the committee chairman, Laori, made it clear that what they observed was less than that and not too far from the bridge at Ita-Egba in Ogun State. He also said it was obvious that Duhu & Sons had been on the 7km road since 2011 and paid some amount of money, and the company is no longer on site. The ministry could not clarify whether they had terminated the contract of Duhu & Sons or not.
In the documents sighted by our correspondent, a final warning letter was given to DC Engineering Ltd on December 26, 2022, while Engr. Kuti told the committee that the Ijebu-Igbo Ibadan road contract was re-awarded to two companies in September 2022. He claimed it was awarded to two companies to work from both ends, Oyo and Ogun States.
Olajide told the committee on Tuesday that it was re-awarded to only one company. It took them over a minute before mentioning the company’s name, Areatech Construction Ltd.
Meanwhile, a letter from the Bureau of Public Procurement to the Federal Ministry of Works conveying the ‘Certificate of No Objection’ for ‘Areatech’ received on February 23, 2023, showed the ministry presented N67 billion to BPP for approval, but the BPP only approved N54 billion. The letter brings to question Kuti’s claim of two companies handling the project.
Similarly, a letter referenced, BPP/S./CCM/23/VOL./358 dated May 10, 2023, from BPP indicated that the ‘Certificate of No Objection’ granted to the Ministry of Works in favour of ‘Areatech’ has been suspended. BPP based its decision that a letter of termination is required before a certificate of no objection will be issued to another company.
When Laori sought to know the consultant in charge of the project to clarify many issues, Olajide said there was no consultant. However, after contributions by some of his team members, he said the consultant’s contract had expired.
The House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee told DC Engineering Ltd, that if taxpayers’ money paid does not equate job done, they would ensure the company refunds the money to the government treasury.
The committee then summoned the officials of the Federal Ministry of Works, Director of Engineering Highways (South West), Director of Finance and Legal Departments to appear on Thursday.
The Laori led-committee said the probe panel will not hesitate to summon the Minister of Works if the officials fail to give the necessary explanations regarding the controversies over the re-award of the said project.
A video has emerged showing Nigerian striker Victor Osimhen shaking hands with team manager Santoro, while snubbing teammates, Piotr Zieliński and Diego Demme as he arrived at Napoli’s team hotel ahead of Udinese game.
The video posted by sports journalist Fabrizio Romano on Wednesday afternoon has the caption, “Victor Osimhen arriving @ Napoli’s team hotel ahead of Udinese game after the public statement considering legal action against the club. Not greeting Demme and Zielinski but shaking hands with team manager Santoro.”
This development comes after Osimhen in the early hours of Wednesday morning deleted Napoli-related posts on his Instagram page after a contentious ‘mockery’ video was posted by Napoli’s verified TikTok handle on Tuesday.
As observed by PUNCH Online on Wednesday morning, Osimhen’s Instagram page was left with one post in which he wore a Napoli jersey, while other posts have been deleted.
A video featuring the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Minister, Nyesom Wike, showcasing his culinary skills while being inspected by the Chief of Staff to the President, Femi Gbajabiamila, has taken the internet by storm.
The video, which has gone viral on various social media platforms, showcases a unique and light-hearted interaction between two prominent figures in Nigerian politics.
The video, which emerged today, captures Wike’s cooking, focusing on his culinary prowess.
Gbajabiamila can be seen observing the cooking process with keen interest.
The video showcases a jovial atmosphere, with both individuals sharing smiles and light-hearted banter during the cooking session.
Wike, dressed in a simple polo, was seen adding what looked like tomato paste to the meal being prepared.
A voice at the background was heard telling the FCT minister: ”Excellency, you humbled me, sir o.”
While the man recording said: ”We will scatter the internet today.”
Social media users have flooded platforms like X, Instagram, and Facebook with reactions and comments about the video.
Recall that in 2020, while as a governor, Wike was seen in a video cooking okra soup.
Watch the video below:
The Confederation of African Football, CAF, has named Morocco hosts for the 2025 AFCON, while a joint bid from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania got the nod for the 2027 AFCON.
Morocco won the hosting right by garnering 22 votes, after Algeria, Zambia and a joint bid by Nigeria/Benin Republic withdrew before the voting.
At their voting at the Cairo Marriott Hotel in Egypt on Wednesday, the Executive Committee of CAF announced the North Africans and East Africans as hosts for the 2025, 2027 editions respectively.
Nigeria hosted the competition in 1980 and co-hosted with Ghana in 2000.
Morocco won the right to host AFCON by garnering 22 votes, after Algeria, Zambia withdrew before the voting.
CAF also unveiled the joint bid from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, as the winning bid for 2027 fiesta, after second round of voting.
Morocco will be hosting the AFCON for the second time, after it hosted in 1988 while Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania will be hosting for the first time.
The Nigerian Government promised investors and stakeholders in the economy that the economy would pick up in less than 15 months due to reforms of the President Bola Tinubu administration.
This was disclosed by Nigeria’s Vice President Kashim Shettima in a meeting with the management of First Surat Group and top management of MTN Nigeria at the presidential villa, Abuja, on Tuesday.
He added that President Bola Tinubu’s administration is committed to providing an enabling environment for businesses to thrive in the country.
In the statement released by the President, Shettima noted the need for local and foreign investors to make Nigeria their investment hub, urging MTN Nigeria to facilitate and spearhead digital mobile money and digital education, the statement added:
- “He assured the company that the Federal Government was committed to removing all obstacles militating against businesses.
- “The vice president promised that Nigeria’s economy would pick up massively in less than 15 months.
- “He, therefore, urged the telecommunication giant to consider fast-tracking digital mobile money, as well as digital education in Nigeria.”
The Vice President also noted that Tinubu’s administration was willing to partner with various stakeholders in the quest to help boost the nation’s productivity base and generate rapid employment.
Shettima commended the professionalism of Surat Group, which runs Nizamiye Hospital, Nizamiye Foundation, as well as an array of educational institutions, adding that the group, with its 2,500 members of staff, caters for over 100,000 extended families and dependents.
The vice president, told the group that agriculture remained key to the Nigerian economy, adding:
- ” You may wish to consider divesting from the health and education sectors where you have distinguished yourself and delve into agric business where we have huge investment potential.
- ” I assure you that my principal is creating the right environment for businesses to thrive. Property rights will be enforced and no one will be deprived of their rights.
- ” We need foreign direct investment right now more than ever before. Reach out to us and we will support you to succeed,” he said.
He also urged that the days of double taxation and unnecessary bottlenecks be gone, adding that Tinubu’s policy on the ease of doing business would be carried to the latter.
- ” I have never seen anyone committed to revamping Nigeria’s economy like President Tinubu. Yes, we may be facing challenges but believe me, in no distant time the country will be better off for it.”
the MTN’s Chairman, Ernest Ndukwe and Chief Executive Officer, Karl Toriola, assured that the telecoms firm remained committed to Tinubu’s ‘Renewed Hope Agenda’, adding that they would roll out the much-needed 5G network in Nigeria.