Binance Tax Evasion Trial Postponed: Details

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The tax evasion trial involving cryptocurrency exchange Binance and two of its executives has encountered a delay, with proceedings adjourned to May 17. This postponement stems from Binance not being formally served with the charges by the Nigerian authorities.

The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has yet to serve Binance with tax evasion charges, as reported by local news agency BusinessDay. In court, there was a dispute over whether Tigran Gambaryan, representing Binance as the primary defendant, had been served.

Binance Tax Evasion Trial

Gambaryan’s lawyer, Chukwuka Ikuazom, argued that according to Nigerian law, pleading couldn’t occur until Binance, as the primary defendant, was served. Consequently, the judge, Emeka Nwite, adjourned the proceedings to May 17 for a ruling.

Binance and its executives, including Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, were arrested on Feb. 28, and charged with four counts of tax evasion during a visit to Nigeria. 

Ban on Crypto Channels in Nigeria

Their arrest followed the government’s ban on cryptocurrency channels, part of an effort to combat currency speculation. On the other hand, the Nigerian government has launched the first-ever multilingual large language model (LLM) in Africa, making history.

The court mandated Binance to provide the Nigerian government with access to data and details about Nigerian traders using its platform.

The charges revolve around Binance’s failure to register with Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) for tax remittance. While Gambaryan was present in court, Anjarwalla wasn’t, having escaped detention and left the country in March 2024.

Binance and Execs Face Accusations

Besides the tax evasion charges, Binance and its executives also face accusations of laundering over $35 million, as stated by Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The trial for this matter is scheduled to resume on May 2.

Binance, though not represented in court, stated at the Token2049 crypto conference in Dubai that it’s closely cooperating with Nigerian authorities following Gambaryan’s detention.

Gambaryan is Fighting Back

In a separate development, a federal high court in Abuja has postponed the bail application hearing for Binance executive Tigran Gambaryan, who remains in custody at the Kuje correctional center. 

However, Gambaryan is fighting back by suing the government for violating his fundamental human rights. His motion alleges that his detention and passport confiscation contravene the country’s constitution, which guarantees personal liberty.

As the legal battle unfolds, the case underscores the complex relationship between cryptocurrency exchanges and regulatory authorities, particularly in emerging markets like Nigeria, grappling with the implications of digital currencies.

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