Politics

UPDATED: Reps Committee Seeks Arrest of Binance Executives

The House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes on monday, March 4, called for the arrest of the executives of Binance after they failed to attend an investigative hearing on Monday at the National Assembly Complex.

The executives of the company were to appear before the Committee to address allegations bordering on financing terrorism, money laundering, tax evasion, and other financial crimes.

The allegations were contained in petitions by the Empowerment for Unemployed Youths and Niger Delta Youths Council submitted to the House.

The committee resolved to recommend that the House invoke its powers to subpoena and arrest the company’s executives.

Chairman of the Committee, Hon Ginger Obinna Onwusibe, said the executives of the company were to appear before them to answer questions on the petitions that bordered on the financing of terrorism, money laundering, tax evasion, and other financial crimes.

Onwusibe frowned at the legal representation sent by the company for the hearing.

He said at the last session it was resolved that the officials must appear by themselves.

But the lawyer representing Binance, Senator Ihenyen, said among other reasons, executives of the company, which is not based in the country, were apprehensive because of two of their executives who were arrested recently and are still in custody.

Hon Obinna said: “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 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.

“We thank the petitioners for unearthing these 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 years and they have not less than 20 million Nigerians that they are exploiting.”

The Binance lawyer, Ihenyen, said: “Indeed we acknowledge that our client Binance was clearly given the time within it must respond to the petition as well as appear today before this committee. Binance has been able to send a written response dated 28 February 2024.

“The response to the petition attaches two annexures for the purpose of fully responding to the issues and allegations raised by the petitioners in their written petition dated 5th December 2023.

“The second resolution was that Binance representatives must be here. We would like to plead your indulgence that the situation that Binance has been faced with, particularly in the last seven days has forced a very difficult situation on it.

“What has happened is that two Binance executives who came into the country were arrested by another Nigerian authority specifically the National Security Adviser. And since then till date, these two Binance executives are still in custody.

“For this reason, it has been extremely difficult for the global of Binance to mobilize other executive members of the company to Nigeria because there is genuine concern about their safety and security. So this is the situation that we have been forced to contend with.”

He said it was not a show of any disrespect to the House.

He said: “We believe the responses given by our clients would to a large extent address any outstanding issues or issues raised by the petitioners. If there are any outstanding areas that Binance has to respond to either by being in Nigeria physically or by making further written correspondence, we will do our best as legal counsel in Nigeria to advise Binance to proceed accordingly subject to the discretion of this House.

“As the legal counsel to Binance, we have information that Binance was planning to have representatives on the ground but at the time these two persons were arrested, it had not been expressly communicated to us that these two persons are the delegates for that purpose.

“We are aware there are quite a number of executives spanning the region of Europe, America, and Asia in the Binance team. It is possible that one of these persons who was arrested or none of these persons were going to be delegates to this Honourable House today.”

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