See why Reps panel recommended arrest of Binance executives

The House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes is set to evoke its constitutional powers against Binance Holdings Limited because it failed to appear for its public hearing to respond to series of allegations of terrorism financing, money laundry, tax invasion and other crimes.

Binance Holdings Limited, operators of digital assets exchange in Nigeria, has been operating in the country over six years, allegedly without any adherence to financial regulatory frameworks and had been accused of exploiting Nigerians and committing other financial crimes.

Recall that a coalition of civil society organisations, led by the Niger Delta Youth Council Worldwide and the Empowerment for Unemployed Youths against Binance Holdings Limited, had  petitioned the committee to scrutinise the firm’s activities.

Speaking at the public hearing in Abuja yesterday, the committee’s chairman, Ginger Onwusibe, decried the fact that the Chief Executive of Binance Holding limited, Mr Richard Teng, has refused to appear before the committee after series of invitations.

The committee had summoned Teng in a letter dated December 12, 2023 and signed by its chairman, Ginger Onwusibe, requesting his appearance at the hearing.

However, instead of the management team of the company to appear before the House committee as required by law, a team of lawyers was sent instead but the lawyers were told by the committee that their representations would not be accepted.

Responding,  the legal team of Binance, led by Senator Ihenyen, who’s representation was rejected, said Binance executives did not appear before the committee because two other executives, who were to appear at the meeting were arrested upon their arrival in Nigeria by the Office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA.

He said among other reasons, executives of the company, who are  not based in the country were apprehensive because two of their executives were arrested recently and were still in custody.

“Following the arrest of two executives, other persons could not come into Nigeria because they would have been arrested too.

Rather than appear before the committee, Binance wrote through it’s lawyer, Senator Ihenyen, the committee chairman, while restating the resolve of the committee to fight 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 it severally that we do not want representation by lawyers but the chief executives should appear before the committee.

 “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 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 on the grave allegations leveled against them in the petitions brought to us by the Empowerment for Unemployed Youths and Niger Delta youths Council.

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

“We thank the petitioners for unearthing this grievous financial crimes going on in this country for more than six years now. Binance has been operating in the financial space of this country for more than six year and they have not less than 20 million Nigerians they are exploiting.”

” Binance has responded appropriately to the demands of the committee and as our client, we are pleading that this honorable committee consider taking the report.,” Senator Ihenyen said.

Culled from Vanguard