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Nigeria Defends Prosecution of Binance Executive Amid US Criticism

Jun 6, 2024 at 07:10

Nigeria’s Minister of Information, Mohammed Idris, has affirmed that the prosecution of Binance and its executive, Tigran Gambaryan, for illegal cryptocurrency trading adheres to the country’s legal protocols.

Idris emphasized that the trial is being conducted following due process, with confidence in the evidence presented. He assured that Binance would have a fair opportunity to defend itself against the charges of severe financial crimes in court, with the next hearing set for June 20, 2024.

US Lawmakers Advocate for Binance Exec’s Release

This statement from Idris comes in response to an appeal by 12 US politicians to President Joe Biden, urging the US government to utilize its hostage affairs unit to secure Gambaryan’s release. The lawmakers argue that Gambaryan faces unfounded charges, including money laundering and tax evasion, and suggest Nigerian authorities are attempting to extort Binance.

However, Idris reassured that Binance has been granted appropriate consular access and due care, in line with diplomatic protocols and the rule of law. He explained that bail was denied for Gambaryan due to a high flight risk, particularly as a co-defendant, who is now the subject of an Interpol arrest warrant, fled the country illegally.

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Legal Challenges for Binance in Nigeria

Binance and its executives are contending with two lawsuits from Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. The lawsuits involve allegations of tax evasion and money laundering, as well as foreign exchange violations.

In February, Nigerian authorities arrested Gambaryan, a US citizen, and Nadeem Anjarwalla on suspicion of money laundering and tax evasion. While Anjarwalla escaped custody and fled to Kenya, Gambaryan remains detained at the Kuje correctional center in Abuja.

These arrests followed a federal government ban on cryptocurrency channels, aimed at curbing currency speculation. The court has also mandated that Binance provide the Nigerian government with data and details of Nigerian traders using its platform.

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