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Binance Troubles in Nigeria: Exec Escapes Detainment, Govt Files Tax Evasion Suit Against Exchange

Last Updated March 25, 2024 12:56 PM
Eddie Mitchell
Last Updated March 25, 2024 12:56 PM
Key Takeaways
  • One of the two Binance executives has fled Nigerian authorities amid major investigations.
  • Authorities are now placing tax evasion and other VAT-related charges against the exchange.
  • Binance stands accused of manipulating markets, damaging the economy, and processing illicit/illegal funds from unknown origins in Nigeria.

Nadeem Anjarwalla, one of the two Binance executives detained in Nigeria, has reportedly escaped from custody as the exchange comes under increasingly heavy scrutiny from Nigerian authorities.

The news of  Anjarwalla fleeing the country comes amid investigations into the operations of Binance as the government continues to stack charges against the exchange.

Fleeing the Scene?

After being detained upon their arrival on February 26, 2024, Anjarwalla, Binance’s Africa regional manager, and Tigran Gambaryan, Binance’s financial crime compliance lead and former U.S. federal agent, have remained in custody as relations between authorities and the exchange broke down.

Now, after almost a month-long detention and calls from the government to extend their stay, Anjarwalla has reportedly  fled the country. With both British and Kenyan citizenship, Anjarwalla is believed to have fled the country using a Middle Eastern airliner, sources have told  local media outlet, The Premium Times.

According to an immigration official, they have yet to determine how he fled, considering that his passports and travel documents were also seized. Speculatively, Anjarwalla was able to plot the escape thanks to having partial access to cell phones.

Despite being held at what is described as a “comfortable guest house,” Anjarwalla has sought to take matters into his own hands as Binance’s woes in Nigeria worsen by the week. Whatever the case may be in the end, this development only amplifies these issues.

Tax Evasion Charges

Though it was initially unknown as to why the pair were taken into custody, as no criminal charges had been filed against them, efforts to extend their stay or place formal charges against them have been made as the government continues to investigate the exchange for numerous offenses including money laundering, processing illicit/illegal funds from unknown origins, and now tax evasion.

Authorities have placed four counts of tax violations against Binance, which, according to reports, are placed against “Binance Holdings Limited, Mr Anjarwalla and Mr Gambaryan”. Though this seems to imply their direct involvement, it is impossible to confirm or deny these allegations at this point.

Following an order from the Nigerian Magistrate Court in Abuja for Binance to divulge the entirety of its Nigerian user data to authorities, to which Binance has not complied, and it seems that the reasoning behind their detention is to prevent them from tampering with evidence, not at least until the case resumes on April 4, 2024.

Binance Battles On

The world’s leading crypto exchange (by trading volume) is under more scrutiny than ever.

Throughout 2023, the exchange began to gradually lose footing in numerous major markets such as the U.S., the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Canada, Japan, and many others. Some restrict platform access; others have outright banned it entirely, resulting in numerous legal battles and investigations for the exchange.

Matters have only worsened since the exchange and former CEO, Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, who currently awaits his criminal sentencing trial, pleaded guilty to numerous violations of U.S. law and financial regulation,  which saw Binance pay billions  in fines over numerous violations.

With accusations of processing some $21.6 billion in unknown funds, destabilizing the economy, devaluing the naira, failing to pay taxes, and now an escaped ‘suspect’, the Binance Nigeria saga may set yet another legal precedent for the crypto industry in 2024.

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