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Binance Charged With Tax Evasion in Nigeria as Exec Escapes

Binance

Nigeria has reportedly charged Binance and two of the cryptocurrency exchange’s executives with tax evasion.

The charges come with a dramatic wrinkle, as one of those executives, who had been detained by the government last month, has apparently fled the country, Bloomberg News reported Monday (March 25).

According to the report, Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has accused Binance of non-payment of value-added-tax and company income tax, failure to file tax returns and complicity in aiding customers to evade taxes via its platform.

Also named in the charges were Tigran Gambaryan, Binance’s head of crime compliance, and Nadeem Anjarwalla, the company’s regional manager for Africa, both in custody since they arrived in Nigeria in February.

However, Anjarwalla — a citizen of both the U.K. and Kenya — managed to flee custody last week, the report said. The escape happened after guards escorted him to a mosque for prayer. He had been scheduled to appear in court April 4, per Bloomberg.

PYMNTS has contacted both Binance and FIRS for comment but has not yet gotten a reply.

The executives were picked up by Nigerian national security officers after arriving in the country in late February after authorities said the company is operating in the African nation illegally.

Nigerian Central Bank Governor Olayemi Cardoso had cited Binance during a press conference in January after announcing a record interest rate hike to help boost the country’s currency.

Criticizing “illicit flows,” Cardoso said $26 billion has passed via Binance in Nigeria “from sources and users who we cannot adequately identify.”

Other officials have said that crypto firms have been disrupting Nigeria’s exchange rate and taking on the role of the country’s central bank. It has led Nigeria to ask its telecom companies to block platforms like Binance and Coinbase.

Binance’s troubles in Nigeria are the latest in a string of legal and regulatory difficulties for the world’s largest crypto exchange, which in February finalized a $4.3 billion deal with the U.S. government resolving a Department of Justice criminal investigation into the company.

The company is also dealing with regulatory issues in India, where the government asked both Apple and Google to remove the Bianance app from their stores after the Financial Intelligence Unit India said it was blocking the URLs of nine offshore virtual digital asset service providers, alleging these companies were not adhering to India’s Prevention of Money Laundering Act.