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Alleged financial crimes: Reps committee recommends arrest of Binance executives

The House of Representatives has been advised to evoke its powers to subpoena and arrest top executives of Binance Holdings Limited following their failure to appear for the public hearing organised by the Committee on Financial Crimes on Monday.

The company is facing a series of allegations including terrorism financing, money laundering, tax invasion and other crimes.

Binance Holdings Limited, operators of Digital Assets Exchange in Nigeria has been operating in Nigeria for over six years allegedly without adhering to the nation’s financial regulatory frameworks as well as facing allegations of financial exploitation of young Nigerians.

Recall that the Niger Delta Youth Council Worldwide and the Empowerment for Unemployed Youths Initiatives petitioned the National Assembly, urging the two chambers to invite Binance for questioning.

At the public hearing on Monday, Chairman, House Committee on Financial Crimes, Obinna Ginger lamented the non-appearance of the Chief Executive of Binance Holding Limited, Mr Richard Teng, after many invitations.

The Committee had summoned Mr Teng in a letter dated 12th December 2023 requesting Mr Teng’s appearance at the hearing.

However, the company failed to show up, preferring to send legal representatives to the hearing; a development that infuriated the committee as it insisted on having an interface with the executives of Binance Holding Limited.

On Monday, Mr Ginger while restating the resolve of the Committee to rid the country of financial crimes, said “The committee will be forced to recommend to the House to arrest Binance executives since they have failed to appear before the committee.

“As long as the committee is concerned, Binance is not at this meeting because we have said severally that we do not want representation by lawyers but the chief executives should appear before us. Binance is not here. We have taken a position on it in our last sitting that we are not going to entertain legal representation from Binance and that position stands.

“Based on the fact that Binance is not here, we need to make a recommendation to the House of Representatives for the House to invoke its powers of subpoena to issue a warrant for the leadership of Binance to be arrested and be brought to this Committee to answer questions of the grave allegations levelled against them in the petitions brought to us by the Empowerment for Unemployed Youths Initiatives and Niger Delta youths Council.

“This Committee has resolved to recommend to the House to invoke its constitutional powers by issuing a subpoena and a warrant for Binance executives to be arrested and brought to this Committee to answer these questions regarding relationship financing of terrorism, money laundering and other financial crimes as stated in the petition including evasion of tax.

Earlier, counsel to Binance, Senator Ihenyen who was at the briefing pleaded with the committee to accord the company ample time to appear before it, noting that two top shots of Binance who arrived in the country last week were arrested by the Office of the National Security Adviser.

“Following the arrest of two executives, other persons could not come into Nigeria because they were afraid of arrest too. Binance has responded appropriately to the demands of the committee and as our client, we are pleading that this honourable committee considers taking the report,” he pleaded.

In a separate interview with PUNCH Online, spokesman for the Empowerment for Unemployed Youths initiative, Danesi Momoh accused Binance of shady practices in Nigeria noting that despite its more than five years of operations in the country, the company has no desk in any of the 36 states of the federation.

He said, “We have been speaking for the unemployed youths in Nigeria for a long time. When Binance came to Nigeria, many unemployed youths embraced them. But some of them have been crying foul that what they expected is not what they are seeing today, trading in Binance. Some of them are now saying that they have been defrauded. Some of these unemployed Nigerians ran to us to express their grievances.

“Our findings showed that Binance has not been living up to expectations. What they are doing is not far from fraud. We thought of going to court but found out that Binance does not even have a desk in any of the 36 states of the federation. They don’t have an office in Nigeria.”

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