Nigeria Court Rules Binance Executive Can Face Trial on Behalf of Crypto Exchange


On Friday, a Nigerian court ruled that Binance executive Tigran Gambaryan could stand trial on behalf of the cryptocurrency exchange in an ongoing tax evasion case. Alongside Binance, Gambaryan, a U.S. citizen and head of financial crimes compliance, and British-Kenyan national Nadeem Anjarwalla, a regional manager for Africa, face four counts of tax evasion.

Additionally, they have been charged separately with laundering more than $35 million and engaging in specialized financial activities without a license. All parties have pleaded not guilty to the money laundering charges.

Following Friday’s court hearing, neither Binance’s lawyer nor Gambaryan’s lawyer offered comments. In response, a Binance spokesperson expressed deep disappointment regarding Gambaryan’s continued detention, asserting the charges against him as meritless and advocating for his release during ongoing discussions with Nigerian government officials.

While Gambaryan remains in custody, Anjarwalla fled the country in March. Nigeria’s security adviser’s office is collaborating with Interpol to pursue Anjarwalla’s arrest.

The CEO of Binance has criticized Nigeria for what he perceives as setting a dangerous precedent. The executives were initially invited to the African country for talks in February but were subsequently detained as part of a crypto crackdown.

Although Binance itself has not been charged in the tax evasion case by Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), which suggested Gambaryan could face charges on the exchange’s behalf, Gambaryan’s lawyer has argued that he had no authority from Binance to represent them.

Judge Emeka Nwite ruled on Friday that Gambaryan, as the chief financial compliance officer of Binance, should be served with the charges against the company. He was duly appointed to represent Binance in a meeting in Nigeria. Gambaryan is set to be arraigned in court on Wednesday to enter a plea on behalf of Binance.

Furthermore, Gambaryan’s bail application related to the money laundering case was denied on Friday. Nigeria has attributed its currency woes to Binance after cryptocurrency websites emerged as preferred platforms for trading the Nigerian naira amidst chronic dollar shortages.