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Binance Executive Held in Nigeria Makes First Court Appearance

Binance’s head of financial crime compliance, Tigran Gambaryan, appeared in court in Nigeria for the first time Thursday (April 4).

Gambaryan, who is a U.S. citizen, was served with charges and did not take a plea, Reuters reported Thursday.

Gambaryan, another Binance executive and the cryptocurrency exchange itself have been charged with four counts of tax evasion, as well as money laundering, according to the report.

The other executive — Nadeem Anjarwalla, a British-Kenyan who is a Binance regional manager for Africa — escaped custody and fled Nigeria in March after being detained along with Gambaryan on Feb. 26, the report said.

Following his court appearance Thursday, Gambaryan will be formally arraigned for the money laundering charges Monday (April 8) and for the tax evasion charges April 19, per the report.

Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has argued that Gambaryan can face the charges on Binance’s behalf, the report said.

His lawyer, Chukwuka Ikuazom, has argued that Gambaryan was not a director, partner or company secretary at Binance; had no written instructions from the company to face the charges on its behalf; and cannot take a plea until the company itself has been served, according to the report.

Binance said Wednesday (April 3) that Gambaryan was not responsible, as he had no decision-making power in the company, per the report.

The two Binance executives were detained by Nigeria in February as the country increased pressure on the cryptocurrency sector. They were picked up by national security officers after arriving in Nigeria, with authorities saying that the company was operating illegally in the African nation.

It was reported March 11 that Nigeria blames Binance for driving down the value of its currency. Before their detention, Gambaryan and Anjarwalla headed to Nigeria to help solve the problem.

Following their detention, Anjarwalla fled the country in March.

On March 29, it was reported that the two executives sued the Nigerian government. They filed their suit against the country’s national security advisor, Nuhu Ribadu, and the EFCC for violating their fundamental human rights.

In their court filings, Gambaryan and Anjarwalla pleaded with the Federal High Court to order the agencies to release them, return their passports and apologize publicly.

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