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Nigeria Defends Legal Action Against Binance Executive Amid U.S. Lawmakers’ Criticism

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The Nigerian Minister of Information, Mohammed Idris, recently emphasized that the legal proceedings against Binance and its executive, Tigran Gambaryan, for illegal cryptocurrency trading adhere strictly to the country’s legal protocols. Idris assured that Binance has received the appropriate consular access from the United States, following all standard diplomatic procedures and the rule of law.

Nigerian authorities uphold legal process as U.S. lawmakers push for Binance executive’s release.

The minister highlighted that the trial has meticulously followed due process at each stage. Prosecutors are confident in their case, having gathered substantial evidence. Binance will have the opportunity to defend itself against the serious financial crime charges in court, with the next hearing scheduled for June 20, 2024.

U.S. lawmakers have called for the release of Gambaryan, with twelve politicians appealing to President Joe Biden. They urged the U.S. government to employ its hostage affairs unit to facilitate Gambaryan’s release. The lawmakers’ letter described the charges against Gambaryan as “baseless,” including allegations of money laundering and tax evasion. They believe these charges are part of a coercion tactic by Nigerian authorities to extort Binance.

Idris reiterated that all due care has been taken in line with standard diplomatic protocols. He mentioned that bail was denied for Gambaryan due to his high flight risk, especially after a co-defendant, Nadeem Anjarwalla, fled the country illegally and is now subject to an Interpol arrest warrant.

Binance faces dual lawsuits in Nigeria amid cryptocurrency crackdown and high-profile arrests.

Binance is facing two separate lawsuits in Nigeria, brought by the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. The former involves allegations of tax evasion, while the latter pertains to money laundering and foreign exchange contraventions. These legal challenges have compounded Binance’s difficulties in Nigeria.

In February, the Nigerian government arrested Gambaryan, a U.S. citizen, and Anjarwalla on suspicions of money laundering and tax evasion. Anjarwalla managed to evade custody and fled to Kenya, while Gambaryan remained detained at the Kuje correctional center in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. This arrest followed the federal government’s ban on cryptocurrency channels as part of a campaign to curb currency speculation. The court also mandated that Binance provide the Nigerian government with access to data and details of Nigerian traders using its platform.

The Nigerian government’s stance is firm, as they navigate the complex legal and diplomatic challenges surrounding the case. The situation continues to draw significant attention from both local and international observers, especially given the involvement of U.S. politicians advocating for Gambaryan’s release.

Nigeria’s stance on cryptocurrency has been notably stringent, reflecting the government’s concernss about financial stability and regulatory control. In recent years, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has taken a hard line against the use of cryptocurrencies, culminating in a 2021 directive that prohibited financial institutions from facilitating cryptocurrency transactions. This move was aimed at curbing potential risks associated with digital currencies, including fraud, money laundering, and the funding of terrorism. Despite these restrictions, cryptocurrency trading has remained popular among Nigerians, who view digital currencies as a hedge against the country’s volatile inflation and devaluation of the Naira. The ongoing legal challenges faced by Binance further underscore the Nigerian government’s commitment to enforcing its regulatory framework while balancing the burgeoning interest in digital assets among its population.

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