Home Science Technology Binance Executive Collapses During Money Laundering Trial in Nigeria

Binance Executive Collapses During Money Laundering Trial in Nigeria

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Tigran Gambaryan, a Binance executive currently detained in Nigeria, collapsed in the Federal High Court in Abuja during his trial for alleged foreign exchange violations and money laundering offenses brought against him by the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Gambaryan’s legal representative, Mark Mordi, informed the court on May 22 that his client had been unwell since the previous trial date and was still experiencing health issues. Gambaryan had also missed a court appearance on the same day for separate tax evasion charges brought by the Nigerian Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), though he did attend the money laundering trial.

During the proceedings, when the court registrar called the case, Gambaryan did not respond and remained seated in the back row. Judge Emeka Nwite, noticing his absence, requested clarification. Mordi then assisted Gambaryan to the dock, but Gambaryan suddenly collapsed and had to be helped to a front-row seat. Mordi explained that Gambaryan’s health was failing and submitted a written application to notify the court of his condition. Due to the collapse, Mordi requested an adjournment for medical treatment, and the court rescheduled the trial for June 20 and 21 for cross-examination.

Previously, Judge Nwite had denied Gambaryan’s request for bail on May 16, citing concerns from the EFCC that he might flee if released from Kuje Correctional Centre, where he has been detained since April 2024 after pleading not guilty to the money laundering charges.

In March, the FIRS filed tax evasion charges against Binance and its executives, including Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla. The charges encompassed failure to register with the FIRS, failure to pay company income tax, failure to pay value-added tax, and facilitating tax evasion. The Nigerian government accused Binance of influencing foreign exchange rates and called for stricter oversight of cryptocurrency trading platforms.

Binance CEO Richard Teng recently stated that Nigerian officials attempted to coerce Binance representatives into a secret settlement paid in cryptocurrency during meetings in early 2024. Following these developments, Binance announced on March 5 that it would cease all Nigerian naira transactions, effectively exiting the market. The company’s peer-to-peer trading platform also delisted all Nigerian naira trading pairs in late February.

The ongoing legal battles and regulatory scrutiny underscore the tension between the cryptocurrency exchange and Nigerian authorities as they navigate the complexities of digital currency regulation and enforcement.

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