Reps Denies $150m Bribe from Binance Over Criminal Charges

The Federal Government has described as blackmail, the allegation by the cryptocurrency exchange giant, Binance, that some officials demanded a $150m bribe to settle the criminal charge filed against the firm.

The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, in a statement on Wednesday, dismissed the claims as baseless and part of a wider attempt by Binance to evade accountability for alleged criminal activities.

Binance’s Chief Executive Officer, Richard Teng, accused unidentified individuals of acting on behalf of officials to demand $150m in cryptocurrency to resolve the tax evasion and money laundering case against the company and its officials.

In a post published by the New York Times on Tuesday, Teng alleged that unknown persons made the bribe demand to Binance officials shortly after they held a meeting with lawmakers on January 8, 2024.

The House of Representatives, however, denied demanding or collecting bribes from the cryptocurrency platform as insinuated by the Binance’s CEO.

The lawmakers said the accusation could bring the House and its members into disrepute, insisting that its committees did not meet the Binance executives as claimed by Teng.

Teng, in his article, however, claimed that the purported agent demanded “a significant payment in cryptocurrency to be paid in secret within 48 hours to make the issues go away.”

Reacting to the allegations, the minister noted that the investigation against Binance in Nigeria centred on allegations of money laundering, terrorism financing, and illegal trading activities facilitated through its platform, stressing that it would not succumb to blackmail or coercion.

Idris, in the statement issued by his media aide, Rabiu Ibrahim, contended that the allegations lacked “any evidence and are merely a diversionary tactic employed by Binance to deflect attention from the serious charges it faces in the country.”

The minister said, “This claim by Binance CEO lacks an 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.

“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.”

The government, therefore, pledged to address the legal issues surrounding Binance operations in the country.

“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,” he added.

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