Binance accuses Nigerian officials of demanding $150m bribe

Global cryptocurrency platform, Binance has accused top Nigerian government officials of demanding a $150 million bribe in crypto to settle criminal charges filed against the company.

The allegation was made public by Binance Chief Executive Officer, Richard Teng, in a blog post published by the New York Times on Tuesday.

According to the report, Tigran Gambaryan, a compliance officer at Binance, received the unsettling message during a visit to Nigeria in January earlier before his arrest alongside a colleague.

Gambaryan alongside a colleague, Nadeem Anjarwalla, who escaped from lawful custody, are currently on trial in Nigeria over alleged money laundering and tax evasion charges.

“On a trip to Nigeria in January, Tigran Gambaryan, a compliance officer for the giant cryptocurrency exchange Binance, received an unsettling message: The company had 48 hours to make a payment of roughly $150 million in crypto,” the report stated.

Gambaryan, a former U.S. law enforcement agent, interpreted the message as a request for a bribe from officials in President Bola Tinubu’s administration.

“Mr. Gambaryan, a former U.S. law enforcement agent, understood the message as a request for a bribe from someone in the Nigerian government, according to five people familiar with the matter and messages reviewed by The New York Times,” the report continued.

“He and a group of his Binance colleagues had just met with Nigerian legislators, who accused the company of tax violations and threatened to arrest its employees.”

The New York Times also revealed that Gambaryan and his colleague, Nadeem Anjarwalla, were subsequently arrested and detained on orders of the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu. Anjarwalla managed to escape and has since been traced to Kenya.

Gambaryan has been transferred from a safe house to the Kuje Correctional Centre in Abuja since April 8. Both he and Binance are now facing charges of tax evasion and money laundering to the tune of $35.4 million.

However, in response to the allegation, Zakari Mijinyawa, spokesman for the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), assured that the Federal Government would follow due process.

In a message to the New York Times newspaper, Mijinyawa emphasised that the government would make its case “on the strength of the facts and evidence, in accordance with due process.”

“We are confident that Nigeria has a good case. Binance equally will have every opportunity under the rule of law to make its case and see justice delivered,” he concluded.

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Written by Nike

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