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Nigeria Pushes Back Against Binance, Claims CEO’s Bribe Allegation ‘Lacks Any Iota of Substance’

Shalini Nagarajan
Last updated: | 1 min read
Nigeria Bribe

Nigeria has fired back at Binance Holdings’ bribe accusation, claiming it’s a distraction to shift focus away from the exchange’s actions.

The statement on Wednesday followed Binance CEO Richard Teng’s blog post, where he accused a Nigerian government official of pressuring crypto representatives to accept a secret agreement. This agreement would supposedly settle claims the Nigerian government has against the exchange.

“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,” the Ministry of Information spokesman Rabiu Ibrahim said.

He added that the Binance CEO’s claim “lacks any iota of substance.” He also described it as a “diversionary tactic and an attempted act of blackmail.”

The exchange “will not clear its name in Nigeria by resorting to fictional claims and mudslinging media campaigns,” he added. “The only way to resolve its issues will be by submitting itself to unobstructed investigation and judicial due process.”

Binance didn’t return Cryptonews’ request for comment by press time.

Binance Employees Allegedly Threatened, Offered Secret Deal

According to Teng, Nigeria’s House Committee on Financial Crimes (HCFC) threatened to arrest Binance employees and bar them from leaving the country.

After leaving the HCFC meeting, unidentified individuals reportedly approached Binance employees, offering to resolve the situation through a secret payment. The New York Times reported this $150m “settlement” originated within the Nigerian government.

Detained Execs, Blocked Access

The conflict began on Feb. 26 when executives Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla traveled to Abuja to address the Binance-Nigerian government dispute. However, Gambaryan and Anjarwalla were detained in Nigeria for two weeks in March without justification and later faced money laundering and tax evasion charges.

Anjarwalla escaped soon after, but was recaptured in Kenya, nearly 3,000 miles away, in late April.

Nigeria’s government had ordered the country’s telecoms to block access to Binance and other cryptocurrency exchanges. They justified this action by citing concerns about the devaluation of the Nigerian currency, the naira, and alleged involvement of the exchanges in illegal money transfers.

Reports indicate Nigeria’s government is angry about capital flowing out of the country due to the crypto exchange. This has worsened the African nation’s financial problems.