Bribery allegations: Binance employing diversionary tactics, says committee

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The House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes said on Tuesday, May 14, that the bribery allegations by the Chief Executive Officer of Binance were aimed at diverting attention from its investigation of fraud-related activities against the company.
The chairman of the committee, Ginger Onwusibe said at a news conference that the committee was investigating allegations of multiple financial and economic crimes and irregularities against the company.

According to him, 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 (the “Digital Assets Rules”), 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.

“Accordingly, an invitation letter dated 8th December 2023 was formerly sent via email to Mr. Richard Teng, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Binance inviting the organization to appear before the Committee.

“Following formal communications between the Committee and Binance, 10th January 2024 was agreed upon by the parties as a convenient date for a Public Hearing on the matter. Subsequently and before the agreed date, Binance through their Counsel reached out to the Committee to request for a pre-hearing meeting to give them deeper insight into the allegations against them which will assist them in preparing for the Public Hearing.

“The Committee approved the request of the Binance team and scheduled the pre-hearing meeting for the 8th day of January 2024 at the National Assembly Complex.

“On the 8th day of January 2024, the Committee represented by three of its members and its Clerk led by Hon. (Chief) Peter Akpanke (Obudu/Bekwarra/Obanliku Federal Constituency), met with a six-member team representing Binance.

“Detailed facts on the allegations against Binance as contained in the aforesaid Petitions, 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 meeting was open, transparent and ended on a cordial note. No solicitation or demands of any type was made by representatives of the Committee to Binance at the meeting.

“On the 10th day of January 2024, Binance failed to appear for the Public Hearing having earlier forwarded a request for an extension of time to enable the organization to prepare adequately. The Committee obliged the request and rescheduled the Public Hearing.

“On the rescheduled date, Binance failed to appear and instead sent its Counsel to represent them. The Committee frowned at this disregard of the Committee from Binance and abuse of its goodwill in accommodating them. The Committee again rescheduled the Public Hearing for the 4th day of March 2024 and directed Binance to formally and properly appear through its principal employees on that date.

“In order to pull the wool over the eyes of Nigerians and the general public with the view to draw away the attention of the world from its unlawful refusal to appear at a legitimate and Constitutional Parliamentary Public Hearing to answer to allegations of criminal and fraudulent activities, Binance belatedly came up with fabricated, false and malicious allegations of solicitations for bribes by the Committee. The allegations are totally false and unfounded.

“The Committee wishes to emphasize that all interactions with Binance were formal, open, and transparent. The Committee never met with the Binance team outside the National Assembly nor did the Committee delegate any individual or entity to meet with the Binance Team on its behalf for any purpose.

“It should also be noted that the Committee formally communicated with the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) to ascertain the tax liabilities of Binance. No amount in figures was conveyed to the Committee as per the extant tax default by Binance.

“Although Binance has refused, neglected and/or failed to appear before the Public Hearing scheduled by the Committee, the Committee has proceeded with its investigations which have so far revealed prima facie incidents of unlawful infractions by Binance.

The infractions, he said include tax evasion having operated illegally in Nigeria, generating Billions of dollars in profits with zero tax remittance and providing a platform for money laundering activities and illegal transfer of funds to foreign shores.

The infractions also include providing a platform for terrorism financing, enabling terrorists and enemies of the Nigerian State to receive ransoms without trace thus facilitating the purchase of sophisticated arms and weapons, adversely manipulating the Nigerian Forex space which led to a sharp spike in the price of foreign currencies against the Naira and operating outside the regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Onwusibe stressed that the “sophisticated criminality of Binance is demonstrated by its actions in organizing and carrying out the escape from the lawful custody of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on the 23rd day of March 2024, of its employee, Mr. Nadeem Anjarwalla, using forged Kenyan Passport (while his genuine British Passport is still in the custody of the authorities).

“It is important to emphasize that Nigerian Security and Regulatory Agencies such as the ONSA, EFCC, NFIU, SEC, CBN, etc, were already investigating the alleged criminal activities of Binance independent of the Petitions before the Committee.

“Clearly, the criminal activities of Binance in Nigeria had gained notoriety. Indeed, the criminal activities of Binance is not just a Nigerian issue but a global problem. It should interest Nigerians to know that on the 30th day of April 2024 the founder of Binance, Mr. Changpeng Zhao, was sentenced to four months in prison (down from three years demanded by prosecutors) for money laundering, unlicensed money transmitting and violations in Seattle, United States (US).”

He assured Nigerians of the integrity, transparency and competence of the House Committee on Financial Crimes, saying we refuse to be diminished or deflated by the shenanigans of Binance and other enemies of Nigeria.

He said: “We recognize 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.”
The Nation.

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