BINANCE: Gambaryan’s ‘illegal’ cryptocurrency trading in Nigeria prosecuted under due process – FG 

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Nigeria’s Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, has said that “the ongoing trial of rogue online platform, Binance, and one of its Chief Executives, who illegally trade in cryptocurrency in Nigeria”, Tigran Gambaryan, is following due process recognized by the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. 

Rabiu Ibrahim, Special Assistant (Media) to the Minister of Information and National Orientation, disclosed this in a statement on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. 

The minister’s reaction may not be unconnected with a recent letter reportedly written to the United States, Joe Biden, by  12 United States politicians, who urged the US hostage affairs unit to facilitate the release of Gambaryan who is currently been detained by Nigerian authorities on charges of money laundering and tax evasion.  

Nigerian Government reacts  

Nairametrics previously reported that in a June 4 letter to President Biden, Secretary Anthony Blinken and the Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger D. Carstens, the US politicians claimed that Tigran Gambaryan was being wrongfully detained by the Nigerian government and immediate action needs to be taken to prevent a further worsening of the situation. 

The letter by these politicians has been widely reported by numerous local and international media thereby making  Binance executive’s trial a topical issue on the internet. 

Idris, while being silent on what or who he was responding or speaking to,  explained that the detained Binance executive has received consular access from the US and all due care, following normal diplomatic protocols and the rule of law. 

The statement added that the judge in the case has sufficiently posited that bail was denied because of the flight risk, after a co-accused, now the subject of an Interpol warrant, illegally absconded. 

“At all stages, due process has been followed, and prosecutors are confident of their case, based on the facts and evidence gathered. Binance will have every opportunity to defend itself in court against these severe charges of financial crimes against the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The next hearing is on June 20, 2024,” Idris was quoted as saying. 

Idris told the general public to note that “Binance is prefaced as an entity whose representatives have been variously imprisoned, fined, sanctioned, and banned in North America, Europe, and Asia, in recent years.” 

“Changpeng Zhao, the billionaire co-founder and former CEO of Binance is currently serving a four-month prison sentence in the United States after being found guilty of money laundering, while Binance has openly accepted its role in facilitating terrorism, corruption, sanctions busting, and in aiding and abetting paedophile gangs,” Idris added. 

The minister continued that law enforcement agencies believe Binance operations in Nigeria are part of a broader international pattern, adding It will be for the courts in Nigeria, as in other jurisdictions, to hold the company and its executives accountable. 

More insights   

Binance and its executives are faced with two separate suits by the Federal Inland Revenue Service and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the former bordering on tax evasion while the latter on money laundering and foreign exchange contravention.   

Nairametrics recalls that the executives have also instituted a fundamental rights case against agencies of the Nigerian government, citing a violation of their constitutional right to liberty.   

On February 28, Nigerian authorities detained two senior Binance executives, Nadeem Anjarwalla, a 37-year-old British-Kenyan who serves as the regional manager for Africa, and Tigran Gambaryan, a 39-year-old American who is the head of financial crime compliance at Binance.  

Gambaryan has been in detention since his arrest and his bail application has been declined by Justice Emeka Nwite. 

When the trial commenced, an official from the Security Exchange Commission (SEC) testified in court that the Binance Naira Peer-to-peer (P2P) feature destabilized the country’s foreign exchange. 

Nairametrics reports that a popular method of buying and selling crypto is through Peer-to-peer, otherwise known as P2P.   

The seller and buyer are connected in what can be likened to a marketplace.   

On one of the trial days, Gambaryan slumped in court forcing the judge to adjourn trial over the defendant’s health conditions as explained by his lawyer. 

On May 28th 2024, Tigran’s wife, Yuki Gambaryan, pleaded with the Nigerian authorities to comply with the court order so that her husband may receive appropriate medical care. 

“This has gone too far. I am begging everyone who can help, including our own American government, to recognize that an innocent man’s life is at risk. Please, at least let him go to the hospital so he can recover. But more importantly, let him come home to us,” she said in a statement. 

 

 


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