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Nigerian Court Adjourns Binance Money Laundering Trial  to May 17

A representative for the family of imprisoned Binance executive Tigran Gambaryan announced on Thursday that the money laundering trial in Nigeria has been postponed until May 17.

The trial was scheduled to start today but has been moved forward by 2 weeks. 

According to Reuters, Binance’s attorney protested in court that he had not received the further evidence he needed to build his case. Following these protests, he was served in court, with the judge giving him further time to carefully review the 300 pages of evidence that were presented.

Binance Money Laundering Charges 

Binance and its executives, British-Kenyan Nadeem Anjarwalla, a regional manager for Africa, and U.S. citizen Tigran Gambaryan, head of financial crime compliance, have been accused of laundering over $35 million and conducting specialized financial transactions without a license.

They have all pleaded not guilty to these charges.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, is also prosecuting Binance and its officials separately on another four counts of tax evasion in addition to the money laundering case. The trial for these other charges is also scheduled to recommence on May 17.

Executive Still at Large 

The Binance trial has been dragging on since February this year when the first charges were initially levelled against the crypto exchanges and its executives based in Nigeria. Gambaryan, a U.S. citizen and the head of financial compliance for Binance, was arrested in Nigeria together with Nadeem Anjarwalla, a British-Kenyan regional manager for Africa in February. Nearly a month later, Nigerian authorities brought charges of tax evasion and anti-money laundering against the corporation and its officials.

Gambaryan travelled to Nigeria in February alongside fellow Binance executive Nadeem Anjarwalla in order to answer allegations that the exchange had manipulated the Naira, the nation’s fiat currency. When the cryptocurrency exchange announced that it was going to stop accepting Naira transactions, Nigerian authorities arrested both of the Binance executives.

Since then, Anjarwalla has escaped, and authorities in Nigeria are searching for him. Gambaryan is being held in Kuje jail for his bail hearing, which is scheduled for May 17 concurrently with the tax evasion trial. The exchange had not received formal accusations, therefore the tax evasion trial was also rescheduled till April.

The government’s accusations have drawn criticism from different quarters, who claim that Gambaryan had “no decision-making power” at the cryptocurrency company, according to Binance. Tigran’s wife, Yuki Gambaryan, filed a petition on March 30 asking the Nigerian government, the U.S. President Joe Biden, the State Department, and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission of Nigeria to bring her husband back to the United States. 4,179 people have signed the petition as at the time of reporting on May 2.

Image courtesy of pixabay

Edwin Kinoti

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