The House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes yesterday on Wednesday walked out lawyers from Udo Udoma and Belo-Osagie, for misleading a cryptocurrency exchange company in Nigeria suspected to be operating at variance with extant Nigerian laws.
Recall that on the 5th of December, 2023,
Empowerment for Unemployed Youths Initiative, Niger-Delta Youth Council and their partners petitioned Binance Holdings Limited, the operators of Digital Assets Exchange before the House Committee on Financial Crimes alleging a plethora of crimes and infractions against Nigerians and total disregard for extant laws governing cryptocurrencies which has posed a risk to Nigerians especially the youth who are vulnerable to such schemes.
The House Committee on Financial Crimes, swiftly summoned the Managing Director of Binance, Richard Teng in a letter dated 12th December, 2023 and signed by its chairman, Hon. Ginger Onwusibe requesting a hearing on the 18th of December, 2023.
However instead of honouring the invitation, lawyers from Udo Udoma and Belo-Osagie appeared on their behalf.
Speaking at the hearing, the Chairman, House Committee on Financial Crimes, Hon. Ginger Onwusibe described the appearance of lawyers from Udo Udoma and Belo-Osagie Chambers a as despicable and unprofessional stressing that the National Assembly is not a law court.
The chairman therefore walked Udo Udoma and Belo-Osagie out and directed that the company be given another date to appear.
A source at the National Assembly diclosed that, “to say we are disappointed with the infantile, treacherous, demeaning and insensitive treatment meted on the National Assembly by Udo Udoma and Belo-Osagie is an understatement. By conniving with an illegal entity clearly operating at variance with existing laws and risking the Nigerian economy, the firm has shown that its loyalty is not with the country and its laws but to their pocket and selfish desires even if it means disrespecting the legislature. A case unfolding like the P&ID scandal.
By disgracefully walking Udo Udoma and Belo-Osagie out of the hallowed Chambers of the National Assembly and venue of the scheduled meeting by the House Committee on Financial Crimes, the leadership of the National Assembly and indeed that Committee has shown that there is no room for crooks who are not worth their credentials and the trust bestowed on them. Udo Udoma and Belo-Osagie should stop embarrassing itself and allow the needful to be done rather than protect illegality”.
Commenting on the outcome of the committee sitting, the National Coordinator of Empowerment for Unemployed Youth Initiative, Amb. Solomon Adodo, the National Coordinator of the Niger Delta Youth Council, Chief (Engr.) Jator Abido, on behalf of other partners, expressed their deep seated disappointment with the lawyers from Udo Udoma and Belo-Osagie Chambers and wondered why a knowledgeable law firm could have the effrontery to treat the hallowed Chambers of the National Assembly with such disdain capable of bringing shame and ridicule on the House.
The group insisted that Binance Holdings Ltd must explain to the National Assembly and Nigerians the status of their operations in Nigeria by physically appearing before the House Committee on Financial Crimes with the relevant documents requested of them rather than enlisting the services of lawyers who have chosen the unprecedented route to promote gross ineptitude and primitive accumulation without any iota of patriotic commitment to the fatherland.
“Binance Holdings LTD. has a case to answer and they must avail themselves to the nation’s legitimate authority. You cannot be operating in the country and think you can disregard the laws of that country. Those beating the drums of disobedience to foreign firms whose operations threatens national security and economic stability must think twice. We are well within our mandate as civil societies and must continue to act as watchdogs to safeguard the economy and governance structure in the country. Those who are in bed with enemies of the country should know that their time is up”, the statement warned.
The groups equally cautioned Mr. Richard Teng, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Binance Holdings LTD. to desist from acts capable of earning him a warrant of arrest from InterPol and the possible freezing of the assets of Binance, adding that, “crimes such as money laundering, investments and securities fraud, tax evasion and failure to comply with regulatory frameworks are crimes of national security dimension whose punishments are stiff. There will be no hiding place when the law finally catches up with Binance.
The group finally urged unsuspecting Nigerians to distance themselves from Binance.com whose “operation of a virtual asset platform targeting Nigeria (including the country’s cyber space) and onboarding Nigerians, without due registration violates the provisions of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) in the country respectively. Nigerians should therefore not fall victim to such fraud or even enable it”.