Friday, April 12, 2024

EFCC to arraign Binance executives Gambaryan, Nadeem Anjarwalla Thursday

Mr Anjarwalla, who the EFCC describes as “at large” in the counts, is expected to be arraigned in absentia.

• April 2, 2024
Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla
Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla

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 charges.

It was gathered on Tuesday that Binance, Mr Gambaryan and Mr Anjarwalla, who escaped from lawful custody on March 22 and fled Nigeria, will be arraigned before Justice Emeka Nwite of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court.

The crypto exchange firm and Messrs Gambaryan and Anjarwalla are listed as the first to third defendants, respectively. But Mr Anjarwalla, who the EFCC describes as “at large” in the counts, is expected to be arraigned in absentia.

The anti-graft agency filed a charge on March 28, accusing the trio of money laundering totalling $35,400,000.

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

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

Also, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) will arraign Binance Holdings Limited, Mr Gambaryan, and fleeing Mr Anjarwalla on April 4 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 end on April 8, the chief judge of FHC, Justice John Tsoho, directed the transfer of the 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 because it concerns dire national interest.

The FIRS charged and filed the charge on March 22, claiming the defendants committed the offence on or about February 1.

Count one alleged that while carrying and offering services to subscribers on their platform, Binance, they failed to register with the FIRS to pay 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.


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