Tinubu, NSA, Binance And The Ruse We Must Disregard, By Gidado Ibrahim 

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Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange group, is reputed for fishing in trouble waters. It has been severally caught in the Web of its own games. This supposes that whatever emanates from the organisation should be treated with levity because globally it has failed integrity test.

 

Penultimate week, Binance alleged that some top officials of the Renewed Hope Government attempted to obtain bribe amounting to one hundred and fifty million dollars ($150,000,000.00) from the organisation in exchange for a soft landing.

 

A very thick cloud of integrity deficits has trailed the activities of Binance, not only in Nigeria, but globally. World-wide, the organisation is reputed for aiding and abetting economic crimes. Nigeria is not their only or first victim.

 

For most of us who followed and monitored Binance’s activities globally right from its inception, we were able to stay calm and observe amidst their economic crimes because most countries we advise had already convicted the organization, some without option of fine.

 

A few instances will suffice. About a fortnight ago, the founder of Binance was sentenced to four months in prison in the United States for allowing criminals to launder money on his platform. Changpeng Zhao pleaded guilty to violating US money laundering laws. US Prosecutors accused Binance and Zhao of “wilful violations” of its laws, which threatened the US financial system and national security.

 

Binance is an organisation that is given to supporting criminals and illegality. For instance, the US Prosecutor, Janet Yellen said, “Binance turned a blind eye to its legal obligations in the pursuit of profit. Its wilful failures allowed money to flow to terrorists, cybercriminals, and child abusers through its platform.” Binance was ordered to pay $4.3billion (£3.4billion) after a US investigation found it helped users bypass sanctions.

 

Similarly, last week Tuesday, Binance Holdings Ltd was found guilty and fined C$6 million ($4.4 million) by Canada’s financial watchdog for breaching money-laundering protections. Binance received the financial penalty from Canada’s FINTRAC agency for failing to register as a foreign money services business and failing to report virtual currency transactions exceeding C$10,000.

 

Additionally, last year (2023), Binance was investigated by French authorities. The investigation was focused on its anti-money laundering procedures. Binance was sanctioned.

 

In fact, the Netherlands practically chased Binance out of the country by the refusal of Dutch central bank to grant it licence.

 

In view of the foregoing, should the Binance bribery allegation be given any iota of credibility? Seeing their penchant for falsehood, shady and underhand dealing as has been obvious in many countries.

 

Granted that corruption is a global concern ànd Nigeria, as a member the global community, shares in this concern. Also, corruption is so insidious that its effects is more destructive thar the hurricane.

 

Because of the reality ground, when the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu Renewed Hope government took office last year, it declared an all out war against graft. The anti-corruption agencies have been firing from all cylinders because of the free hand the Tinubu’s government has granted them.The hitherto sacred cows are now having their days in court.

 

Against this backdrop, it leaves one wondering where the spurious allegation by Binance is coming from. To any sane mind, the allegation is abysmally incomprehensible and logically destitute. It is a ruse or ploy to blackmail authorities with the sole aim of evading justice. If not, when, where and how was the bribe demanded? Is it after Binance and its nefarious activities were buggled by the active coordination between the office of National Security Adviser (NSA) and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) that the bribe was demanded?

 

Needless to reiterate that this is a case of corruption fighting back. It is also a clear case of a dog just passed and here a piece of meat is missing. Who will swear that it’s not the dog who stole it? Recall that the naira was on a free fall until Binance was put to flight and suddenly, the naira began to regain strength.

 

The Binance allegation should be taken as the last kick of a dying horse. This gimmick to give dog a bad name in order to hang it, is coming too late. This ruse of whipping up public sentiment against the government to evade justice is dead on arrival. Let me remind Binance and their Nigerian henchmen that the combination of NSA Nuhu Ribadu and President Tinubu is formidable enough to dismantle and demobilise every gimmicks and falsehoods.

 

The wild, spurious, preposterous, ridiculous and silly allegation of bribery by the ignoble Binance is baseless and without substance because it made no mention of anyone in particular. History is said to be the best teacher, and evidence is the end of argument. Let me bend a bit backward to remind saboteurs and enemies of the Nigerian economy that Ribadu, who was chairman of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from April 2003 to December 2007, has been tested and trusted. He has survived many of these type of tantrums.

 

For example, desperate to halt a probe into his finances, a Nigerian governor, James Ibori of Delta State, tried to bribe the then anti-corruption boss in 2007 with $15 million in cash in a big ‘ghana must go’ bag. Ribadu pretended to take the bribe because he wanted the cash as evidence to use against Ibori in a prosecution, but rather than keep the money for himself, he had it taken straight to the Central Bank of Nigeria to be kept safe in a vault.

 

Binance must be deceiving itself to think that they can hoodwink Nigerians into believing their tissues of lies. The notorious organisation is only incensed by the firm stand of the Tinubu’s government, which has exposed and checkmated the dubious activities of Binance that nearly rubbished the Nigerian currency (naira).

 

Here are some pragmatic actions of Tinubu’s NSA took that infuriated Binance. Until the Tinubu government came on board, Binance was a sacred cow in the Nigerian economy. They ruined the value of the naira to the extent that the center could no longer hold, until the NSA’s office took the bull by the horn with the arrest of two Binance crypto exchange platform executives.

 

Permit me to recall the startling revelation by the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Olayemi Cardoso, that Binance has become Nigeria’s nightmare. The platform became a conduit pipe through which almost 26 billion dollars of the Nigerian scarce resources was siphoned abroad. Worse still is the fact that the platform was a ready tool for dubious forex speculators who severely sabotaged the Nigerian naira.

 

Let me advise that the activities of Binance, if left unchecked, will be detrimental to the viability of any economy and system. This is because Binance modus operandi of cryptocurrency “mixing” service makes transactions harder to trace. Also, Binance users included ransomware gangs and bad actors that pulled cryptocurrency from other exchanges.

 

Equally or most alarming is the fact that Binance allowed users to ignore or avoid money-laundering checks by checking on the user’s “VIP level” before banning the account for violations, and sometimes, encouraging the VIP user to create a new account. It’s also on record that Binance facilitated transactions with arms groups.

 

In my opinion, since Binance is mistaking the gentle movement of a lion for timidity, let the full weight of Nigerian sovereignty be unleashed like it was the case in the US, Canada, the Netherlands etc. I must also restate that from all evidences cited here, Nigerians should disregard Binance and its tantrums.

 

The intelligence community should arrest the Binance partner who escaped from cell and bring him back to Nigeria, including those behind their operations in Nigeria. The Tinubu-led government and the National Security Adviser (NSA), Nuhu Ribadu, should redouble their efforts. With this kind of lies flying everywhere, it means the government’s no-nonsense policies is biting the criminal elements harder. Soon enough, they’ll all leave our economy alone to flourish to the benefit of all.

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