Nigeria Drops Tax Charges Against Binance Executives

Tax charges against Binance executives Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla have been dropped by Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service.

The FIRS revised the charges so that only Binance, through its local representative, is named.

Nigeria took Binance and its executives to court to answer to money laundering and tax evasion charges after detaining its executives.

Tax charges brought by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) of Nigeria against Binance executives Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla have been dropped.

The FIRS agreed to revise the charges so that only the crypto exchange, through its local representative, is named. Gambaryan, who is now sick, will no longer need to appear in court for the FIRS case and Binance is now the sole defendant. The two executives remain named in a money-laundering case brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

Binance has been trying to convince Nigerian authorities that Gambaryan does not have decision making powers in the firm, so should not have to represent it in court and should be released. Gambaryan and Anjarwalla were detained in February while the country investigated the exchange. Anjarwalla escaped shortly after. Nigeria later took the executives and Binance to court for money laundering and tax evasion charges.

“This goes to show that both Tigran and Nadeem are not decision makers at Binance, and should never have been detained and charged,” a family spokesperson said in an emailed statement on Friday. Gambaryan is head of financial crime compliance at Binance; Anjarwalla was a director for the company’s Africa operations.

The next hearing in the money-laundering case is scheduled for June 19 “where the application for an order for the enforcement of fundamental rights will be heard,” the statement said. The trial is due to resume on June 20. Gambaryan is still detained at Kuje prison.

“In order for Tigran to be allowed to go home to his family, we are hopeful that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) will take similar steps,” a Binance spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “Tigran has been detained for 110 days, and his physical health is deteriorating, including a recent malaria and pneumonia diagnosis. Binance is committed to continuing to work with the Nigerian government to resolve this.” 

On May 23, Gambaryan collapsed in court from malaria, the statement by the family spokesperson said. Since then, the “conditions have worsened and Tigran now has pneumonia.”

Despite a court order by Justice Emeka Nwite to take the executive to hospital, the prison authorities took 11 days to take him for a brief check-up and the results of this have not yet been released to his family, the spokesperson said.

“We really need the U.S. government to intervene more forcefully for the immediate release of an innocent American citizen,” Tigran’s wife Yuki Gambaryan said in the statement. “This has gone on too long and Tigran’s life is at risk.”

Neither the Federal Inland Revenue Service nor the Supreme Court of Nigeria had responded to a request for comment by publication time.

Update (June 14, 12:28 UTC): Adds context, background throughout.

Update (June 14, 14:07 UTC): Removes attribution to family spokesperson in headline, first par; adds Binance statement in sixth paragraph.

Edited by Sheldon Reback.

 

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