Binance Case in Nigeria Adjourned Amid Bribery Allegations and Rising Tensions

The ongoing legal battle between Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, and Nigerian authorities has taken another dramatic turn. A Nigerian court recently adjourned the tax evasion case against Binance to June 14, following the absence of Tigran Gambaryan, a key executive of the exchange, who failed to appear in court.

A Case of Absence and Uncertainty

On May 22, the Federal High Court in Abuja was set to arraign Gambaryan on charges of tax evasion. However, the Nigerian Correctional Service did not present him in court, leaving the prosecution and defense in a state of confusion. Moses Idehu, the prosecution counsel, expressed his surprise and requested a brief stand-down to resolve the issue. Despite these efforts, Judge Emeka Nwite decided to postpone the arraignment, highlighting the uncertainty surrounding Gambaryan’s absence.

The charges against Binance and its executives, including Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, are severe. The Nigerian Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has accused them of failing to register with the FIRS, evading company income tax, and laundering over $35 million. These allegations stem from claims that Binance facilitated a $26 billion illicit flow of funds, significantly impacting Nigeria’s financial stability and influencing foreign exchange rates.

The case took a controversial turn when Binance’s executives, Gambaryan and Anjarwalla, were detained in February. Their passports were seized, and they filed a lawsuit against Nigerian authorities, alleging human rights violations. This move intensified the legal battle, with both sides accusing each other of unethical behavior.

Bribery Allegations and Denials

Adding to the drama, Binance CEO Richard Teng accused Nigerian authorities of demanding a $140 million bribe, a claim swiftly dismissed by the authorities. Ginger Onwusibe, Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes, called Teng’s allegations a diversionary tactic and blackmail attempt, denying any solicitations or demands made towards Binance.

During the latest court session, T.J. Krukrubo, SAN, representing Binance, objected to the prosecution’s failure to present Gambaryan. Simultaneously, Senior Advocate of Nigeria Chukwuka Ikwuazo requested the judge to remove Anjarwalla’s name from the amended charges, as he has been declared “at large.” The FIRS lawyer consented to this request, agreeing to take the necessary steps to amend the charge sheet.

The Road Ahead

With the arraignment postponed to June 14, the legal battle between Binance and Nigerian authorities remains unresolved. The case highlights the growing tension between cryptocurrency platforms and regulatory bodies worldwide. As Nigeria tightens its oversight on crypto trading, the outcome of this case could set a significant precedent for the future of digital currencies in the region.

This ongoing saga of legal disputes, human rights allegations, and accusations of bribery underscores the complex relationship between innovative financial technologies and traditional regulatory frameworks. The world will be watching closely as Binance and its executives prepare for their next court appearance, with the potential to influence the global crypto landscape profoundly.

Image courtesy of pixabay

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