Nigeria’s Interpol upskilled to combat digital asset crime

Nigeria’s Interpol upskilled to combat digital asset crime

Nigeria’s Interpol recently held a meeting with stakeholders in the blockchain and cybersecurity industries to discuss ways to combat ‘crypto’ crime.

Interpol invited the African Stablecoin Consortium (ASC) and local blockchain analytics firm A&D Forensics to train its agents on digital asset crime. ASC comprises commercial banks and fintech developing cNGN, a naira-pegged stablecoin seeking to compete against the eNaira.

The Africa Stablecoin Consortium and A&D Forensics were invited to equip 20 senior officers of the #Interpol Nigeria with important knowledge about the handling of stablecoins.


— Africa Stablecoin Consortium (@AS_Consortium) May 10, 2024

Adedeji Owonibi, a senior partner at A&D, revealed that the training sought to equip law enforcement officers with skills to handle the rising wave of digital asset crime. Nigeria is Africa’s largest digital asset market, and despite a recent crackdown by the government, it continues to proliferate amid a depreciating naira.

“A significant gap exists between the evolving cybercrimes and the capabilities of law enforcement agencies in Nigeria. As responsible corporate citizens, we recognised the need to bridge this gap and support our law enforcement agencies in staying updated and effectively combating cybercrimes,” Owonibi told media outlets.

Stablecoins were central to the cybersecurity discussions. According to leading African exchanges, including Yellow Card, more Africans are using stablecoins for cross-border transfers and as stores of value, as most African currencies have lost significant value in the past three years.

Over the past decade, South Africa’s rand has lost 50.1% of its value against the U.S. dollar, while the naira lost 68% since mid-last year.

Beyond stablecoins, the blockchain experts educated the officers on using digital assets to facilitate crime, such as through ransom payments and digital currency scams.

According to Chioma Onyekelu, who co-led the training, this will allow Nigeria’s Interpol to contribute to global digital asset-related investigations and assist other countries when required.

While acknowledging the need for more education, the trainers noted that Nigerian regulators have made great strides in understanding and policing digital assets.

Nigeria has grabbed headlines for its crackdown on the sector, led by its pursuit of Binance and its leadership for alleged crimes, including money laundering and tax evasion. Tigran Gambaryan, Binance’s head of financial crime compliance, is still detained in Abuja and stands trial for the exchange’s crimes.

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