Nigerian Court Adjourns Binance Tax Evasion Trial to May 17

Nigerian court postpones Binance tax evasion trial to May 2024 as company not formally served charges. Highlights evolving crypto regulations in Nigeria and Binance's legal battles with authorities.

Nasiru Eneji Abdulrasheed
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Nigerian Court Adjourns Binance Tax Evasion Trial to May 17

Nigerian Court Adjourns Binance Tax Evasion Trial to May 17

A Nigerian court has postponed the tax evasion trial against cryptocurrency exchange Binance and its executives Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla to May 17, 2024. The postponement occurred during a hearing on April 21, as Binance has not been formally served with the charges brought by Nigeria's Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

The court proceedings are related to allegations of tax evasion by Binance and its executives. Gambaryan, a U.S. citizen and head of financial crime compliance at Binance, appeared in court but did not enter a plea. His lawyer, Chukwuka Ikuazom, objected to proceeding with the case, citing Nigerian law that states he couldn't plead until Binance, the primary defendant, was served. Anjarwalla, a British-Kenyan regional manager for Africa, fled the country and was not present at the hearing.

The FIRS lawyer argued that Gambaryan should represent Binance as the primary defendant. However, the judge postponed the proceedings to May 17 to issue a ruling on the matter of serving notice to the defendants. The charges include failure to register with the FIRS for tax remittance purposes.

Binance and its executives were arrested on February 28 during a visit to Nigeria and charged with four counts of tax evasion. The arrest came after the federal government banned cryptocurrency channels as part of a campaign to curb currency speculation.

Why this matters: The trial's postponement is part of a broader government crackdown on cryptocurrency activities in Nigeria, with authorities seeking more transparency from companies like Binance. The case highlights the evolving regulatory landscape for cryptocurrencies in the country and could set a precedent for how such matters are handled in the future.

Apart from the tax evasion trial, Binance and its executives face charges of laundering over $35 million by Nigeria's anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). That trial is set to resume on May 2. Additionally, Gambaryan is suing the Nigerian government for allegedly violating his fundamental human rights through his detention and the confiscation of his passport. Binance has stated its commitment to collaborating with Nigerian authorities to resolve the issues, saying it is "working closely with Nigerian authorities" following Gambaryan's detention.

Key Takeaways

  • Nigerian court postpones Binance tax evasion trial to May 17, 2024.
  • Binance executives Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla were charged with tax evasion.
  • Binance not formally served with charges, and Gambaryan was unable to enter plea.
  • Binance and execs also face money laundering charges by Nigeria's EFCC.
  • Case highlights evolving crypto regulation in Nigeria, could set precedent.