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EFCC to arraign Binance two officials for $35.4 million alleged money laundering charge on Thursday  

The Economic Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) is set to formally charge Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla,  two top officials of Binance, the cryptocurrency trading platform, with five counts of money laundering of over $35.4 million this Thursday.  

Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court (FHC) in Abuja will preside over the arraignment of Gambaryan and Anjarwalla as well as Binance Ltd.  

Although the crypto exchange firm, Gambaryan and Anjarwalla are listed as 1st to 3rd defendants respectively, Anjarwalla escaped from lawful custody on March 22 and fled Nigeria.  

The EFCC is expected to arraign him in absentia. 

On March 28, the anti-graft agency officially filed charges, alleging that the trio allegedly laundered an amount of $35,400,000. 

The first count accuses the defendants of operating a specialized business of a financial institution in Abuja from January 2023 to January 2024 without a valid license. 

The offence Is said to be contrary to Section 57(1) and (2) of the Banks and Other Financial, Institutions Act, 2020 and punishable under Section 57(5) of the same Act. 

Under case number FHC/ABJ/CR/115/2024, the three defendants are set to be arraigned on four counts before Justice Nwite. 

According to reports, the Easter vacation of the Federal High Court (FHC), starting March 22 and ending April 8, led to Chief Judge Justice John Tsoho ordering the Binance case file to be transferred to Justice Nwite, despite him not being a vacation judge. 

The chief judge granted the fiat for the judge to handle the case during vacation a matter that concerns dire national interest. 

Recall that Nairemetrics reported that the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) in Abuja filed legal proceedings against the cryptocurrency exchange Binance, alleging four instances of tax evasion.  

The allegation against Binance involves the non-remittance of Value Added Tax (VAT), Company Income tax (CIT), non-compliance with tax return filing obligations, and facilitating tax evasion for its users. 

Furthermore, in the lawsuit, the federal government charged Binance with not registering for tax purposes with the FIRS and violating the country’s tax laws. 

Binance has not yet responded to these allegations. 

The federal government has recently crackdown on crypto trading platforms, accusing them of manipulating foreign exchange (FX) rates, leading to increased regulation of digital currency trading platforms. 

On February 28, officials in Nigeria arrested two high-ranking Binance officials: Nadeem Anjarwalla, a 37-year-old British-Kenyan who is the African regional manager, and Tigran Gambaryan, a 39-year-old American who leads the financial crime compliance at Binance.  

However, Anjarwalla reportedly escaped from lawful custody, according to an official statement from the office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).  

On the other hand, Tigran Gambaryan, the second official filed a lawsuit against the federal government, the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), compelling them to apologize to him over his detention in the country.  

Gambaryan disclosed this in his Fundamental Rights suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/356/2024 while alleging that the federal government is using his continued detention “as leverage to continue making demands on Binance.”  

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