Binance mobile app

Nigeria demanded $150M bribe from Binance: report

Officials from Nigeria’s law enforcement agencies allegedly demanded a $150 million bribe from Binance to dismiss charges against the exchange, a new report has revealed.

Nigeria’s top economic and national security agencies have charged Binance with money laundering and tax evasion. They have also attributed the naira’s struggles to speculation on the digital currency market, and the exchange has shouldered most of the blame. Tigran Gambaryan, its financial compliance head, has borne the brunt of the regulatory actions and has been in detention for over 70 days.

Richard Teng, the former Singaporean central banker who took over the reins from Changpeng Zhao, finally broke his silence on the legal woes in Nigeria. In a lengthy blog post, Teng told the exchange’s side of the story, which stretches back two years.

Richard Teng: Nigerian officials demanded ‘crypto’ bribe

According to Teng, Binance has been trying to work with Nigerian regulators since May 2022, when the SEC required all VASPs to obtain a license. The exchange reportedly attempted to get directions on the license application process for months to no avail.

This all changed in December 2023 when the Nigerian parliament summoned the exchange for an investigative hearing. Gambaryan was part of the first contingent from the exchange that visited Nigeria earlier this year to iron things out.

Teng alleges that after the first round of meetings, the exchange’s representatives were approached with an offer to dismiss all charges against them for payment in ‘crypto.’

Later, another party approached the team, alleging to represent the parliamentary committee. They reiterated the offer and gave them a 48-hour deadline to settle it “to make these issues go away.”

While Teng didn’t disclose the specifics, the New York Times, citing four sources familiar with the matter, reports that Nigerian officials demanded $150 million from the exchange.

The Nigerian government has dismissed the allegations, claiming Binance is just trying to launder its reputation.

“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,” stated the Minister for Information, Rabiu Ibrahim, in a statement released to local media houses.

“They are trying to blackmail the government, but it won’t work,” the minister told another outlet, pledging that the case “will go on and the government will follow the rule of law.”

However, some in the federal government believe the allegations could be true. One outlet reports that some senior state officials are looking into the allegations and believe that bribery could have played a part in Binance Africa manager Nadeem Anjarwalla’s mysterious escape from detention.

“It’s possible that someone who claimed to have reasonable access to people in power may have approached them,” stated a source privy to the investigations into the allegations.

Binance CEO: Let Tigran go

Teng reiterated Binance’s continued call for Gambaryan’s release in his statement. He attacked the Nigerian government’s approach of holding the American for the exchange’s alleged misdeeds.

Prosecutors made this clear in his bail hearing three weeks ago, telling the court that since Binance operates virtually, “the only thing we have to hold on to is this defendant.”

“The message from the Nigerian government is clear: we must detain an innocent, mid-level employee and a former U.S. federal agent, and place him in a dangerous prison in order to control Binance,” says Teng.

He added that the exchange is ready to work with Nigeria towards a solution to the stalemate, but only after the release of the American.

“Let Tigran go home to his family, and then Binance will work through the same process that we have done with Nigeria’s law enforcement community voluntarily more than 600 times in the past,” concluded Teng.

Meanwhile, despite claims of his arrest and the commencement of his extradition to Nigeria, Anjarwalla is still at large and is believed to be in his homeland of Kenya.

Watch: Teranode is the future of the Bitcoin network

YouTube video

New to blockchain? Check out CoinGeek’s Blockchain for Beginners section, the ultimate resource guide to learn more about blockchain technology.