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HomeLatestCourt Postpones Arraignment of Binance, Officials on Tax Evasion Charges

Court Postpones Arraignment of Binance, Officials on Tax Evasion Charges

The Federal High Court in Abuja has postponed the scheduled arraignment of Binance Holdings Limited and its top officials, Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, on charges of tax evasion.

The new date for the arraignment is April 8, as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was unable to serve the charge on the company.

Anjarwalla, who is the Africa Regional Manager of Binance, had previously escaped custody, prompting the government to seek his extradition for trial. Alternatively, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, allows for his trial in absentia.

During the court session, Mark Mordi, SAN, counsel for Gambaryan, objected to the prosecution’s failure to serve Binance Holdings Limited with the charge as required by law.

He argued that his client, Gambaryan, was not an agent, director, or representative of the company in Nigeria and therefore could not accept service on behalf of the company.

However, the EFCC’s lawyer, Mr. Ekele Iheanacho, urged the court to dismiss the objection and proceed with the trial, arguing that Gambaryan is a representative of the company and should accept service on its behalf.

Justice Emeka Nwite adjourned the matter for ruling after hearing arguments from both sides.

The EFCC’s charge alleges that Binance operated illegally in Nigeria by not registering to conduct business or paying taxes to the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS). The defendants are also accused of failing to issue invoices to subscribers for value-added taxes (VATs) on the trading platform.

Additionally, the defendants are alleged to have aided subscribers in unlawfully refusing to pay taxes while offering services on the trading platform.

The offences alleged are punishable under various sections of the VAT Act of 1993, FIRS Establishment Act of 2007, and the Companies Income Tax Act.

Investigations into the matter have been substantially concluded, with the prosecution asserting that there are reasonable grounds for a prima facie case of tax evasion against the accused persons.

Binance was earlier ordered to provide comprehensive data of all Nigerian traders on its platform and transaction history for the past six months. The Central Bank of Nigeria Governor disclosed that about $26 billion had passed through Binance from unidentified sources, prompting investigations into potential money laundering and terrorism financing activities.

After failed negotiations, Binance discontinued all transactions in naira on its exchange platform following reports of the government’s demand for $10 billion as retribution for profiting from “illegal transactions” in Nigeria.

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