Binance CEO Richard Teng draws fresh fire from Nigeria after he claims officials sought $150m bribe

Binance CEO Richard Teng draws fresh fire from Nigeria after he claims officials sought $150m bribe
People & cultureRegulation
Binance CEO Richard Teng shook things up with his assertion of wrongdoing by Nigerian officials. Credit: Darren Joseph
  • The crypto exchange's crisis in Africa intensified with claims over mysterious meeting.
  • Nigerian officials launched a secret investigation into the matter, a source told DL News.
  • Binance and two executives have been charged with money laundering and tax evasion.

For months, Binance CEO Richard Teng has stayed mum on the legal crisis unfolding for the exchange in Nigeria.

Now Teng has kicked a hornet’s nest with a bombshell claim that Nigerian officials sought a bribe of perhaps as much as $150 million in crypto from Binance to settle its dispute with the state.

“[Our] counsel reported back that he had been presented with a demand for a significant payment in cryptocurrency to be paid in secret within 48 hours to make these issues go away and that our decision was expected by the morning,” Teng said in a blog post on Tuesday.

Nigeria’s Ministry of Information dismissed the allegation on Wednesday and said the Binance CEO’s statement “lacked substance.”


“It’s merely a deflection attempt,” a spokesperson for Mohammed Idris Malagi, Nigeria’s information minister, told DL News.

“They are trying to blackmail the government but it won’t work,” the spokesperson said. “The case against them [Binance] will go on and the government will follow the rule of law.”

Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency has charged Bianance and two of its executives with money laundering and tax evasion. The company, and the two managers, Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, have denied the allegations.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s crypto community is buzzing in the wake of Teng’s allegation.

Join the community to get our latest stories and updates

Some who spoke to DL News said Binance should either “name names” or refrain from besmirching the government’s position.

Secret investigation

The bribery allegations are being secretly investigated by state officials, according to a person close to the matter.

“It’s possible that someone who claimed to have reasonable access to people in power may have approached them [Binance],” the person said.

Investigators are also looking into possible ties between the alleged bribe offer and the escape of Nadeem Anjarwalla, Binance’s regional executive in Africa, from custody in Abuja on March 22.

Anjarwalla and another Binance executive, Tigran Gambaryan, visited Nigeria on February 26 to talk about the simmering conflict between the company and the government.

That meeting deadlocked when Nigerian officials demanded access to customer data of Binance’s Nigerian users, which the pair declined to provide, an official close to the case told DL News.


They were then detained in a government “guest house” before being charged with money laundering and tax violation offences alongside Binance.

Anjarwalla escaped custody before the court proceedings began while Gambaryan has spent almost 100 days in detention without a decision on his bail application, which his lawyer has called state-sanctioned hostage taking.”

“Gambaryan is incarcerated in Kuje Prison with a trial date set for May 17.

Settling the problem

The bribery development is inflaming an already tense situation for the world’s biggest crypto exchange.

Teng said the payment solicitation came after a private hearing between the company and some Nigerian lawmakers over regulatory issues in January.

This week, The New York Times reported that it was Gambaryan who fielded the alleged request from Nigerian officials during a trip to the nation in January. The newspaper also reported the figure of $150 million.

Teng said in his post that Binance officials were approached by someone purporting to represent the legislative committee who demanded a bribe to settle the problem.

The accusation is the latest salvo in a standoff between Nigeria’s government and the country’s burgeoning crypto industry.

The conflict began earlier this year when Nigeria’s government blamed crypto trading for the country’s currency woes.

Several state officials including the central bank, law enforcement, and Nigeria’s economic team accused rich crypto trading merchants who process large volumes in peer-to-peer transactions of manipulating the exchange rate of the naira against foreign currencies.

Binance, the largest P2P crypto trading marketplace for Nigerians at the time with an estimated 13 million customers, got caught in the middle of the storm that has since morphed into the current legal crisis.

Delisting the naira

Binance exited the Nigerian market amid the tussle and P2P trading in the country shifted to other exchanges like OKX, KuCoin, and Bybit.

Several platforms have delisted the naira as Nigeria’s government banned P2P crypto trading in May.

Despite these measures, the naira has continued to show weakness and its exchange rate against the US dollar has now fallen more than 40% in the last month — the same level it was earlier this year when alarm bells began to ring.

Osato Avan-Nomayo is our Nigeria-based DeFi correspondent. He covers DeFi and tech. To share tips or information about stories, please contact him at