Nigerian govt announces date for trial of Binance executives

The Nigerian government through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) will, on Thursday, arraign Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, two top officials of Binance Holdings Ltd on five counts of money laundering charge.

The Nigerian government through the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) will, on Thursday, arraign Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, two top officials of Binance Holdings Ltd on five counts of money laundering charge.

Gambaryan and Anjarwalla, who escaped from lawful custody on March 22 and fled Nigeria, will be arraigned before Justice Emeka Nwite of a Federal High Court (FHC), Abuja.

Although the crypto exchange firm, Gambaryan and Anjarwalla are listed as 1st to 3rd defendants respectively, Anjarwalla, who is described to be “at large” by the EFCC in the counts, is expected to be arraigned in absentia.

In the charge dated and filed on March 28 by the anti-graft agency, the trio is being accused of money laundering to the tune of $35,400,000.

Count one accused the defendants between January 2023 and January 2024 in Abuja of carrying on specialised business of other financial institution without valid licence.

The offence is said to be contrary to Section 57(1) and (2) of the Banks and Other Financial, Institutions Act, 2020 and punishable under Section 57(5) of the same Act.

NAN had, on March 28, also reported that the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) will, on April 4, arraigned Binance Holdings Limited, Gambaryan and fleeing Anjarwalla, on allegations bordering on tax evasion.

In the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/115/2024, the three defendants will equally be arraigned before Justice Nwite on four counts.

Though the FHC’s Easter vacation, which began on March 22, will come to an end on April 8, the Chief Judge of FHC, Justice John Tsoho, directed the transfer of Binance case file to Justice Nwite, even though he is not a vacation judge.

The chief judge granted the fiat for the judge to handle the case during vacation being a matter that concerns dire national interest.

In the charge dated and filed March 22 by the FIRS, the defendants were alleged to have committed the offence on or about Feb. 1.

Count one alleged that while involved in carrying and offering services to subscribers on their platform, known as Binance, failed to register with the FIRS, for the purpose of paying all relevant taxes administered by the service.

The offences are said to be punishable under Sections 8 and 29 of the VAT Act of 1993 (as Amended), Section 40 of the FIRS Establishment Act, 2007 (as amended) and under provisions of Section 94 of the Companies Income Tax Act (as amended) respectively.

The two cases were fixed for Thursday to allow for accelerated hearing.

On March 18, reported that Justice Nwite ordered Binance Holdings Limited to provide the EFCC with the comprehensive data or information of all persons from Nigeria trading on its platform.

The judge granted the interim order after ruling on the ex-parte motion moved by the EFCC’s lawyer, Ekele Iheanacho.

The interim order was granted to enable the anti-graft agency unravel the alleged money laundering and terrorism financing on Binance platform.

The commission said it uncovered users who had been using the platform for price discovery, confirmation and market manipulation which had caused tremendous distortions in the market, resulting in the Naira losing its values against other currencies.

The EFCC said that from the information afforded to its team of Investigators by Binance showed that the total trading volume from Nigeria in 2023 alone stood at 21.6 billion dollars .

NAN

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