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Nigerian court delays Binance executives’ tax evasion trial

nigerian-court-delays-binance-executives-tax-evasion-trial
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Nigerian court delays Binance executives’ tax evasion trial

Citing failure to bring Tigran Gambaryan to court, Nigerian court postpones a court hearing in the Binance tax evasion case until June.

A Nigerian court has delayed proceedings in the tax evasion case against the Binance crypto exchange, rescheduling the hearing for Jun. 14. The postponement was due to the failure to present Tigran Gambaryan, a U.S. citizen and Binance’s head of financial crime compliance, at the scheduled hearing, according to a Reuters report.

As of press time, no explanation has been provided for Gambaryan’s absence as even Moses Ideho, the lawyer representing the revenue service, expressed confusion over Gambaryan’s absence, noting that he should have been produced by the Nigerian prison service.

The latest development follows a separate ruling, where a Nigerian court ruled that Gambaryan could represent Binance in the tax evasion trial. Binance and its executives, Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla — Binance’s regional director for Africa — face four counts of tax evasion, including the failure to register with Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service.

Binance CEO Richard Teng previously slammed Nigerian authorities for setting a “dangerous new precedent for all companies worldwide” by inviting executives to the country and then detaining them as part of a crypto crackdown.

In a blog post, the Binance CEO said that prior to their trip to Nigeria, Gambaryan and Anjarwalla were promised “safe passage for their meetings.” However, despite those assurances, the two were “unlawfully detained” by Nigerian authorities, Teng added. In addition to the tax evasion charges, Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, has also accused Binance and its executives of laundering over $35 million.

Gambaryan and Anjarwall were arrested in February and charged with criminal violations. Gambaryan is awaiting trial, while Anjarwall escaped custody, but later was extradited from Kenya to Nigeria. 

Binance was ordered to delist the naira from its peer-to-peer facilities as part of a crackdown on crypto trading in the West African nation. An Abuja High Court also compelled the exchange to submit granular data on all local crypto users on its platform.