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Detained Binance Executive in Nigerian Court over Money Laundering Charges

Cryptocurrency exchange executive faces four counts of tax evasion and money laundering charges

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Staff Writer, TLR

Published on April 5, 2024, 11:31:54


Binance, money laundering, Nigeria, tax evation

In an Abuja court on Thursday, one of the two executives from Binance, the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange, who was detained in Nigeria, appeared to face charges of tax evasion and money laundering.

Binance, along with its executives Tigran Gambaryan, a US citizen and Binance's head of financial crime compliance, and Nadeem Anjarwalla, a British-Kenyan regional manager for Africa, are accused of four counts of tax evasion and laundering over $35 million.

The executives were detained on February 26 during a criminal investigation into Binance's Nigerian activities upon their arrival in the country. Anjarwalla fled the country while Gambaryan remained in detention.

During his court appearance, Gambaryan was served with the charges for the first time since his detention and refrained from entering a plea. He is scheduled to be formally arraigned for the money laundering and tax charges on April 8 and 19, respectively.

While Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) did not charge Binance directly, it suggested that Gambaryan could represent the exchange in court.

However, Gambaryan's lawyer, Chukwuka Ikuazom, objected, citing Gambaryan's lack of authority within Binance and the absence of written instructions to represent the company.

Ikuazom argued that Gambaryan could not plead until Binance, the primary defendant, had been served, as per Nigerian law. Despite Binance's absence in court and lack of immediate comment, the company stated on Wednesday its request for Gambaryan not to be held responsible, emphasising his non-decision-making role while ongoing discussions with the Nigerian government continue.

Meanwhile, Gambaryan has petitioned a Nigerian court for his release. Nigeria attributed its currency challenges to Binance after cryptocurrency platforms became popular for trading the Nigerian naira amid chronic dollar shortage.

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