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‘Blackmail’: Again, Nigerian Lawmakers Denounce Binance’s $140m Bribery Allegation

Financial crimes Committee Chairman Onwusibe has insisted that no solicitation was made to Binance, refuting the $140 Million bribery claim.

The House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes has described the allegation concerning the $140 million bribery scandal made by the Chief Executive Officer of Binance, Mr. Richard Teng, against the committee as diversionary.

The Chairman of the committee, Ginger Onwusibe, stated this while addressing a press conference in Abuja, on Tuesday.

He recalled that on January 8, Binance employees had a face-to-face meeting with three members of the committee at the House of Representatives building for a scheduled pre-hearing engagement in private.

The lawmaker said the meeting was chaired by Hon. Peter Akpanke, Hon. Philip Agbese, and on. Peter Aniekwe, as well as a clerk.

He noted that during the conversation, the Committee highlighted the important nature of the issues at hand and the lengths to which they were prepared to go to summon Binance.

Onwusibe, explained that the allegations against Binance by several Civil Society Organisations including violations of the provisions of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022, violations of the provisions of the Investments and Securities Act, 2007, and the Rules on Issuance, Offering Platforms and Custody of Digital Assets, May 2022 and violation of relevant provisions of Nigeria’s Tax laws resulting in tax evasion, defrauding Nigeria of billions of dollars in tax revenue.

He said the Committee pursuant to its constitutional and legitimate functions promptly commenced investigation of the said petitions by inviting Binance to appear before it and give clarifications on the allegations.

The lawmaker noted that an invitation letter dated December 8, 2023, was formally sent via email to Teng, inviting the organisation to appear before the Committee.

He said following formal communications between the Committee and Binance, January 10, 2024, was agreed upon by the parties as a convenient date for a Public Hearing on the matter.

Onwusibe, noted that on January 8, 2024, the Committee represented by three of its members and its Clerk led by Akpanke, met with a six-member team representing Binance.

He stressed that the petition  was made available to the Binance team to assist them in preparing for the Public Hearing scheduled for the 10th day of January 2024.

The lawmaker emphasised that the meeting was open, transparent and ended on a cordial note.

Onwusibe added: “No solicitation or demands of any type was made by representatives of the Committee to Binance at the meeting.”

The lawmaker stressed that on the 10th of January, 2024, Binance failed to appear for the public hearing having earlier forwarded a request for extension of time to enable the organisation prepare adequately.

 He maintained that the allegation by Binance was bogus, obnoxious, false, fabricated and clearly designed to muddy the waters and shift attention away from the heinous allegations of financial and economic crimes against the Nigerian

Onwusibe added: “We refuse to be diminished or deflated by the shenanigans of Binance and other enemies of Nigeria. The Committee will continue with its functions and assignments undeterred.

“We recognise that the blackmail by Binance is merely an attempt to distract and draw attention away from the serious allegations of criminality against it which is now compounded by its role in the security breach of the sovereign Nigerian State.”

Adedayo Akinwale

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