Those behind $140m Binance bribery blackmail will be brought to book — Speaker Abbas


The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Tajudeen Abbas, on Tuesday, vowed that the 10th Assembly will ensure that those behind the blackmailing over the $140 million bribery scandal are brought to book.

Speaker Abbas issued the threat notice during the press briefing in Abuja held at the instance of the House Committee on Financial Crimes chaired by Hon. Ginger Obinna, who made public the 3-page Committee’s “report into the Binance Holdings Limited’s illegal operations in Nigeria and recommendations,” dated May 13th, 2024.

The Speaker, who was represented by the Chairman, House Committee on Monitoring, Evaluation and Implementation of the Legislative Agenda, Hon. Patrick Umoh, reiterated his stance to protect the integrity of the House, just as he assured Hon. Obinna of the House’s resolve to ensure that he comes out clean.

He said: “We are here on the mandate of the honourable speaker to one, monitor proceedings and protect the image of the 10th House of Representatives. That’s why we are here Mr. Chairman.

“And we are part and parcel of what you are doing because we are all very interested in the credibility of the 10th House of Representatives and we also have to ensure that Nigerians know the truth.

“This is the people’s House and as far as I’m concerned, as far as 10th House of Representatives is concerned, anti-corruption is a core mandate of our committee when it comes to monitoring and evaluation of our agenda.

“It is with dismay that we have observed the trend where the 10th House of Representatives has been blackmailed by individuals, corporate organizations, some organizations who are themselves not known to law, coming to blackmail the Committee on anti-corruption.

“So, the House notes with dismay, the House is worried, the House is uncomfortable that when negative news trends we should also be interested in what is the truth. We are here elected by the people of Nigeria to represent this country and to ensure that we make laws for the good governance of our country Nigeria.

“And the best, the only compliment that we should enjoy from Nigerians is that encouragement. So, Nigerians particularly members of the National Assembly should be interested when we hear of these blackmails, this trending news, the negative news, unprintable things said about the 10th House of Representatives.

“Mr. Chairman, we can vouch for your integrity, which is why you are appointed to chair the anti-corruption of financial crimes Committee of the House. So, be rest assured that we will stand by you and we would defend you because we know you. You have worked with us and we have worked with you to protect the collective integrity of the 10th House of Representatives.

“So, Mr. Chairman let us assure you as a committee that we are interested in this matter and we will ensure that you come out clean because we know you are clean, you are responsible.

“For all reliefs, decisions the Committee has taken we would partner with this Committee to ensure that those involved, those concerns pay for it. They will be brought to justice because liability has to be attached to every action, particularly negative action that is projected at bringing down the integrity of the 10th House of Representatives.”

Speaking earlier, Hon. Obinna, who denied the $140 million bribery allegation, challenged the promoters of the allegation to unveil the “unknown persons” who approached Binance employees and suggested to them to make a payment in settlement of the allegations.

He said: “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 were 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.”

According to him, “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 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, among which are:

(a) Tax evasion having operated illegally in Nigeria, generating Billions of dollars in profits with zero tax remittance; (b) Providing a platform for money laundering activities and illegal transfer of funds to foreign shores; (c) Providing a platform for terrorism financing, enabling terrorists and enemies of the Nigerian State receive ransoms without trace thus facilitating purchase of sophisticated arms and weapons.

“(d) Adversely manipulating the Nigerian Forex space which led to a sharp spike in the price of foreign currencies against the Naira.

“(e) Operating outside the regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).”

While dismissing the allegation, Hon. Obinna assured “all Nigerians of the integrity, transparency and competence of the House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes which I have the privilege and honour to chair.

“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. 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.

“It is notable that it was after it had unlawfully and criminally smuggled Mr Anjarwall out of lawful custody while its purported Head, Financial Crime Compliance (FCC), Mr Tigran Gambaryan had been remanded to pre-trial custody at Kuje Correctional Facility, Abuja on the lawful orders of a Nigerian Court, that Binance on 7 May 2024, belatedly made allegations of solicitation of bribes purportedly made by the Committee on 8 January 2024, after four months.

“The Committee will continue with its legitimate functions as indicated and will update the relevant authorities, the general public and the press as the need arises.”