Saturday, April 20, 2024

Arraignment of Binance, executives by FIRS suffers setback over non-service of charge

Mr Ikwuazo did not object to an oral application for adjournment.

• April 4, 2024
Tigran Gambaryan atFederal High Court Abuja
Tigran Gambaryan at Federal High Court Abuja [Credit: NAN]

The arraignment of Binance Holdings Limited and two of its executives; Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, on Thursday, could not proceed due to inability of the Federal Inland Revenue Service to effect service of the charge on the defendants. .

When the matter was called for the defendants to take their plea before Justice Emeka Nwite of a Federal High Court, Abuja, only Mr Gambaryan was represented by a lawyer.

It was observed that neither the company nor Anjarwalla, who recently escaped from lawful custody, was represented by counsel.

However, Mr Gambaryan’s lawyer, Chukwuka Ikwuazo, SAN, told the court that his client had not been served with the charge, hence, his arraignment cannot proceed.

FIRS lawyer, Moses Ideho, though acknowledged that the agency had not served Mr Gambaryan’s with the charge, he said all efforts to do so proved abortive because the defendant could not be reached at the EFCC’s detention.

Mr Ideho then prayed the court to serve Mr Gambaryan in the open court and the judge directed that the charge be served on him in the dock.

The lawyer, therefore, sought a stand-down of the matter or an adjournment to enable Mr Gambaryan to consult with his lawyer.

Mr Ikwuazo did not object to an oral application for adjournment and the matter was adjourned until April 19 for him to take his plea.

It was reported on March 28 that the Federal Inland Revenue Service will, on April 4, arraign 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.

The defendants are being charged on a four-count charge bordering on alleged tax evasion.

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

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


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