Tue. Apr 16th, 2024

By Ojukwu Emmanuel Chiadikaobi

 

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is gearing up to arraign Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, two high-ranking officials of Binance Holdings Ltd, on charges related to money laundering. The arraignment is scheduled to take place on Thursday before Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court (FHC) in Abuja.

According to reliable sources from the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Binance, Gambaryan, and Anjarwalla are facing five counts of money laundering, with allegations totaling $35,400,000. Despite Mr. Anjarwalla’s escape from lawful custody on March 22 and subsequent flight from Nigeria, he is expected to be arraigned in absentia.

The charges, dated and filed on March 28 by the EFCC, accuse the defendants of conducting specialized financial activities without a valid license between January 2023 and January 2024 in Abuja. This offense is in violation of Section 57(1) and (2) of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, 2020, and is punishable under Section 57(5) of the same Act.

Additionally, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) is also preparing to arraign Binance Holdings Limited, Gambaryan, and the absconding Anjarwalla on April 4 for allegations of tax evasion. The charges, marked FHC/ABJ/CR/115/2024, include four counts and will be presented before Justice Nwite.

Despite the ongoing Easter vacation of the Federal High Court, Justice John Tsoho, the Chief Judge, granted a fiat for Justice Nwite to handle the case during the vacation period due to its significant national interest. This move underscores the gravity of the accusations against the defendants.

The charges leveled by the FIRS, dated and filed on March 22, allege that the defendants failed to register with the FIRS for tax purposes while providing services to subscribers on the Binance platform. These offenses are punishable under various sections of the VAT Act of 1993, the FIRS Establishment Act of 2007, and the Companies Income Tax Act.

Both cases are slated for Thursday to expedite the legal proceedings. It’s worth noting that earlier this month, Justice Nwite ordered Binance Holdings Limited to furnish the EFCC with comprehensive data on all Nigerian users trading on its platform. This interim order aims to aid the EFCC in investigating alleged money laundering and terrorism financing activities on the Binance platform, which reportedly led to distortions in the market and devaluation of the Naira.

With the legal proceedings set to unfold, all eyes are on the courtroom as the EFCC seeks to bring accountability to bear on the accused individuals and uphold the integrity of Nigeria’s financial system.

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