Skip to content

Nigeria Lawmaker Refutes Binance's $140M Bribery Allegation

Ginger Onwusibe described Richard Teng's allegations as "blackmail by Binance" intended to distract from serious crimes against Nigeria

Photo by Emmanuel Ikwuegbu / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Nigeria House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes has refuted allegations of bribery by Binance CEO Richard Teng.

The chairman of the committee, Ginger Onwusibe, said at a press conference that the allegations were bogus, obnoxious, false, and fabricated. He added that the claims were intended to confuse the issue and divert attention from the serious allegations of financial and economic crimes against Nigeria.

“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," said Onwusibe.

“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.”

Onwusibe's comments come in response to Teng's remarks in defence of Binance executive Tigran Gambaryan, who was detained by Nigerian officials alongside his colleague Nadeem Anjarwalla.

The pair were detained in Nigeria in February. The pair visited the country in to address allegations that the exchange's activity had crashed the country's national currency, the naira.

Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) charged the exchange and its two executives with five counts bordering on money laundering.

Richard Teng Accuses Nigeria of Bribery as Binance Exec Celebrates 40th Birthday in Jail
Richard Teng has broken his 10-week silence on Nigeria’s arrest of Binance executive Tigran Gambaryan, who will spend his 40th birthday behind bars, accusing the country of bribery

In a blog post titled "Tigran Gambaryan is Innocent and Must Be Released" on Tuesday, Teng defended Gambaryan and decried his arrest.

"I want to start by sharing a bit about Tigran, a person I’ve gotten to know well, and admire deeply, since I joined Binance," Teng wrote. "The greatest irony and most unfortunate fact is that a highly valued global financial crime fighter, who is professionally recognized by his peers in both the private and public sectors, has been detained in Nigeria for more than two months for spurious reasons."

Teng also alleged that the firm was approached by "unknown persons who suggested to them to make a payment in settlement of the allegations" and that there was a "demand for a significant payment in cryptocurrency to be paid in secret within 48 hours to make these issues go away and that our decision was expected by the morning."

Nigeria rejected the "secret" payment allegations. “Teng made false allegations of bribery against unidentified Nigerian government officials who he claimed demanded $150 million in cryptocurrency payments to resolve the ongoing criminal investigation against the company,” the Ministry of Information spokesman Rabiu Ibrahim said.

“This claim by Binance CEO lacks any iota of substance. It is nothing but a diversionary tactic.”

“The phantom bribe claim is part of an orchestrated international campaign by this company that is facing criminal prosecution in many countries including the US, to undermine the Nigerian government,” Ibrahim added.

“It will not clear its name in Nigeria by resorting to fictional claims and mudslinging media campaigns.”

India Approves Binance, KuCoin to Provide Virtual Asset Services
Binance and KuCoin have been approved to operate as Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs) by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of India after being banned from the country

On Tuesday, Onwusibe told the press that Binance employees had a physical meeting with three members of the committee at the House of Representatives building, which was chaired by Hon. Peter Akpanke, Hon. Philip Agbese, and on. Peter Aniekwe, as well as a clerk.

The Committee highlighted the important nature of the issues at hand such as violations, tax evasion, and money laundering during the conversation.

He said there was, “No solicitation or demands of any type was made by representatives of the Committee to Binance at the meeting.”