FG denies asking Binance for $150 million bribe to drop all criminal charges

Binance CEO announced that the Nigerian authorities were demanding a hefty $150 million bribe in crypto from its detained executives
Nigerian court remands Binance executive, Tigran Gambaryan in custody
Tigran Gambaryan and his counsels in court. Source: Nairamatrics.

The Federal Government of Nigeria has denied claims that it demanded a bribe of $150 million from Binance executives facing trial in the country. This denial was revealed in a statement by Rabiu Ibrahim, Special Assistant to Nigeria’s Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris.

This is coming in the wake of allegations made by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of leading cryptocurrency exchange, Binance Holdings Ltd, Richard Teng. According to Teng, yet to be identified Nigerian government officials demanded a bribe of $150 million in crypto from two of the company’s executives currently facing trial in the country, Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla. This allegedly happened before their detention back on February 28, 2024.

But reacting to the allegations, Ibrahim said the claim lacks any iota of substance. describing it as an attempt to blackmail the government. he said it is all part of an orchestrated international campaign by the crypto exchange to undermine the Nigerian government.

In a blog post that has now been published by many international media organisations, in an apparent well-coordinated public relations effort, Binance Chief Executive Officer Richard Teng made false allegations of bribery against unidentified Nigerian government officials who he claimed demanded $150m in cryptocurrency payments to resolve the ongoing criminal investigation against the company. This claim by Binance CEO lacks any iota of substance. It is nothing but a diversionary tactic and an attempted act of blackmail by a company desperate to obfuscate the grievous criminal charges it is facing in Nigeria,” he said.

FG denies asking Binance for $150 million bribe to drop all criminal charges
Mohammed Idris, Nigeria’s Minister of Information

Ibrahim said the facts of this matter remain that Binance is being investigated in Nigeria for allowing its platform to be used for money laundering, terrorism financing, and foreign exchange manipulation through illegal trading. He also said the federal government will not succumb to blackmail, insisting that the crypto exchange must submit itself to the Nigerian authorities for investigation.

The Federal Government of Nigeria is aware of attempts by Binance to launder its impaired image as an organisation that does not play by the rules and laws guiding business conduct in sovereign nations. We would like to remind Binance that it will not clear its name in Nigeria by resorting to fictional claims and mudslinging media campaigns. The only way to resolve its issues will be by submitting itself to unobstructed investigation and judicial due process,” Ibrahim said.

He also said the government of Nigeria will continue to act within its laws and international norms and will not succumb to any form of blackmail from any entity, local or foreign.

Binance troubles in Nigeria

In February 2024, two Binance executives, Tigran Gambaryan, a U.S. citizen and Head of Financial Crime Compliance, and Nadeem Anjarwalla, a British Kenyan and Regional Manager for Africa were arrested and detained by Nigerian authorities. They were subsequently charged to court on four counts bordering around tax evasion and money laundering.

Richard Teng - Binance CEO
Richard Teng – Binance CEO

However, in March, one of the executives, Nadeem Anjarwalla, escaped EFCC custody and fled the country using a Middle East airliner. Later in the same month, there were reports that he was rearrested by Interpol, a report which the international police failed to substantiate. The Binance CEO also claimed at the time that it was working closely with the Nigerian government to resolve the situation.

But in an apparent change of stance, the CEO announced in a blog post yesterday that the Nigerian authorities were demanding a hefty bribe from its detained executives to make the money laundering trial initiated against them go away.

He revealed that the executives tried to negotiate severally with the Nigerian authorities, including a meeting held on January 8 in Abuja which was set up through a committee consisting of about 30 agencies. The breakdown of negotiations resulted in their being accused of criminal acts.

See also: Binance: court adjourns trial to May 17 as Kenyan police arrest fleeing executive

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