FX Fraud: Court remands Binance executive in prison custody

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By Kenneth Atavti

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Monday, remanded a top official of Binance Holdings Limited, Tigran Gambaryan, in Kuje Correctional Centre.

Trial Justice Emeka Nwite remanded the defendant after he pleaded not guilty to a money laundering charge that was preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

The court held that he should remain in prison till April 18, 2024 when his bail application will be determined, even as it slated May 2, 2024 for the commencement of hearing on the substantive charge against him.

Nigerian Pilot recalled that the Federal Government had arrested and detained Gambaryan and his colleague, Nadeem Anjarwalla, over alleged involvement of their firm, Binance Holdings Limited, in money laundering and terrorism financing.

However, Anjarwalla, who is the Africa Regional Manager of Binance, escaped from custody and fled the country, with the government initiating the process to arrest and extradite him back for trial.

Despite the development, both the EFCC and the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, slammed separate criminal charges against the duo and the company.

Meanwhile, the anti-graft agency is prosecuting the defendants over their alleged complicity in money laundering, the FIRS accused them of engaging in tax fraud.

“The second defendant does not fall under the category of this. He is not a director or partner and does not reside in Nigeria to qualify as an agent. Moreover, the first defendant has no physical footprint in the country. We have not been appointed on behalf of the first defendant.

“The prosecution wants the arraignment when he has not served the first defendant. In civil proceedings, the court insists on service, let alone in this matter. Service is important. It ignites your lordship’s jurisdiction. I urge my lord to discountance my learned friend’s arguments.”

But, prosecution counsel insisted that the second defendant qualifies as an agent of Binance.

According to him, the second defendant is the only one present in the country.

He said, “He’s the only person present in Nigeria. He qualifies as an agent. Section 124 allows substituted service for an individual and for corporations. The service on the first defendant, which he refused to accept, is proper. I urge my lord to discountance what my learned colleague has been saying. He lacks the capacity to do that.

“Section 478 of AJCA says that after the court is shown that the first defendant has no representative in court, the court is mandated to enter a plea of not guilty on his behalf.

“Let the first defendant come and challenge it. It is not meant for the third party to defend the first defendant, he said.