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Nigerian Court Postpones Binance Executives’ Tax Evasion Trial

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A Nigerian court has postponed the trial concerning tax evasion allegations against the cryptocurrency exchange Binance. The hearing, originally scheduled for an earlier date, has been rescheduled to June 14. This delay arose due to the failure to present Tigran Gambaryan, Binance’s head of financial crime compliance and a U.S. citizen, at the scheduled court session. The absence of Gambaryan left many puzzled, including Moses Ideho, the lawyer representing the revenue service. He noted that the Nigerian prison service was expected to produce Gambaryan for the hearing.

Postponement Arises from Absence of Key Binance Executive at Hearing

This postponement follows a previous ruling where a Nigerian court allowed Gambaryan to represent Binance in the tax evasion trial. Alongside Gambaryan, Nadeem Anjarwalla, Binance’s regional director for Africa, also faces charges. The executives are accused of four counts of tax evasion, which include the failure to register with Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service.

In response to the situation, Binance CEO Richard Teng criticized the Nigerian authorities. He argued that inviting executives to the country and then detaining them sets a “dangerous new precedent for all companies worldwide.” Teng elaborated in a blog post that before traveling to Nigeria, Gambaryan and Anjarwalla were assured safe passage for their meetings. However, despite these assurances, the two were unlawfully detained by Nigerian authorities, according to Teng.

In addition to the tax evasion charges, Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has accused Binance and its executives of laundering over $35 million. Gambaryan and Anjarwalla were arrested in February and charged with criminal violations. While Gambaryan remains in custody awaiting trial, Anjarwalla managed to escape but was subsequently extradited from Kenya to Nigeria.

As part of a broader crackdown on cryptocurrency trading in Nigeria, Binance was instructed to delist the naira from its peer-to-peer trading platform. Furthermore, an Abuja High Court has mandated the exchange to provide detailed data on all local crypto users on its platform. This measure aims to enhance regulatory oversight and compliance in the West African nation’s crypto sector.

The confusion surrounding Gambaryan’s absence from the initial court hearing remains unresolved. Both legal representatives and court officials await further developments as the rescheduled hearing date approaches. The Nigerian authorities’ actions and the ongoing legal proceedings are being closely monitored by the global crypto community, given the significant implications for Binance and other international companies operating in Nigeria.

In summary, the Nigerian court’s decision to delay the Binance tax evasion trial underscores the complexities and challenges involved in regulating the rapidly evolving cryptocurrency market. The outcome of this case could set important precedents for future regulatory actions and corporate compliance in the global crypto industry.

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