BINANCE: Gambaryan to remain in prison

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Tigran Gambaryan, a Binance executive, has had his bail application case delayed by the Federal High Court in Abuja. He remains in detention at the Kuje Correctional Centre.

Justice Emeka Nwite adjourned proceedings after E. Iheanacho, counsel for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), requested additional time to address fresh points made by the defendant’s counsel.

The trial judge, had remanded the Binance agent after he pleaded not guilty to the money laundering charges preferred against him by the EFCC.

The EFCC had accused Binance, Gambaryan, and fleeing Nadeem Anjarwalla of concealing the source of the $35,400, 000 generated as revenue by Binance in Nigeria knowing that the funds constituted proceeds of unlawful activity.

Some of the counts read, “That you, BINANCE HOLDINGS LTD (A.KA BINANCE”) between January, 2022 and January, 2024 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court not being an authorized dealer in Nigeria’s Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market used your virtual asset services platform to unlawfully negotiate foreign exchange rates in Nigeria and you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 29(1) (C) of the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring And Miscellaneous Provisions) Act.

“That you BlNANCE HOLDINGS LTD (“A.K.A BINANCE”), TIGRAN GAMBARYAN, NADEEM ANJARWALLA (now at large) and other persons at large between January 2023 and January 2024 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired amongst yourselves to conceal the origin of the proceeds of your unlawful activities and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 21 (a) and punishable under section 18(3) of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022.”

After the court’s approval of EFCC’s arraignment of the defendants, Gambaryan’s lawyer, Mark Mordi, (SAN), urged the court to grant his client bail on liberal terms.

At today’s proceedings, the EFCC drew the attention of the court that Gambaryan’s lawyer served him a further affidavit to his bail application dated April 16.

According to Iheanacho, news issues were raised by the defence and he needs time to respond to them in the interest of justice.

He added, “Our right to a fair hearing should not be denied because justice rushed is justice denied.”

But Mordi reminded the court that his client has been in federal government custody for more than 14 days.

He faulted the prosecution for not filing a response to the further affidavit to his bail application.

After hearing the counsel, Justice  Nwite agreed to adjourn the case so that the prosecution could formally respond as requested.

The case was then fixed for April 22 for a hearing.

Binance and its executives are faced with two separate suits by the FIRS and EFCC; the former bordering on tax evasion while the latter charged them for money laundering and foreign exchange contravention.

The executives have also instituted a fundamental rights case against agenices of the Nigerian government, citing a violation of their constitutional right to liberty.

On February 28, Nigerian authorities detained two senior Binance executives: Nadeem Anjarwalla, a 37-year-old British-Kenyan who serves as the regional manager for Africa, and Tigran Gambaryan, a 39-year-old American who is the head of financial crime compliance at Binance.

Following the federal government’s ban on cryptocurrency channels as part of a campaign against currency speculation, the Binance executives visited Nigeria for a meeting.

The Naira has experienced a significant devaluation of its currency, with the naira losing 70% of its value against the dollar since the foreign exchange reforms were implemented last year, a situation worsened by a shortage of dollars locally.

The NSA later confirmed that Nadeem had fled the country.