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‘Money laundering’: Court to rule on bail application of Binance executive May 17

‘Money laundering’: Court to rule on bail application of Binance executive May 17
April 23
23:33 2024

A federal high court in Abuja has fixed May 17 for a ruling on the bail application of Binance Holdings Limited and Tigran Gambaryan, its executive.

On February 28, Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, Binance’s regional manager for Africa, were detained by the Nigerian authorities.

Although Anjarwalla escaped from the custody of the office of the national security adviser (ONSA), both executives, alongside Binance, are expected to be charged by the federal government for tax evasion and money laundering on April 19.

Anjarwalla was reportedly arrested by the Kenya Police Service on April 22 and awaiting extradition to Nigeria.

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is prosecuting Gambaryan alongside Binance Holdings Ltd and Anjarwalla, on five-count charges bordering on alleged tax evasion, currency speculation, and money laundering to the tune of $34,400,000.

The court had on April 18, adjourned trial till April 23 for Ekele Iheanacho, prosecution counsel, to respond to a bail application filed by Mark Mordi, the defence counsel.

At the resumption of the trial on Tuesday, Mordi argued that the court had the power to grant bail to the defendant and impose conditions to ensure his presence in court.

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“My lord, we have an application filed on April 4, 2024, supported by a 17-paragraph affidavit,” Mordi said.

“We rely on all depositions found in the affidavit. There are four reasons why my lord should grant us bail. Pursuant to Sections 157 and 52 of ACJA, my Lord has the power to grant bail. It is not a capital offence or felony.”

However, Iheanacho opposed the bail application, stating that the defendant was a flight risk.

“The defendant attempted to obtain a new passport, which he claimed was stolen, and this was a suspicious act given the proximity to his colleague’s escape from custody,” the lawyer said.

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“We cannot risk granting him bail, especially since he is not attached to any community in Nigeria.”

Speaking further, Iheanacho said “the fact that the passport of the defendant is with the complainant does not guarantee that he will remain in Nigeria because the defendant is not only an American citizen but also an Armenian citizen by birth”.

“We are urging the honourable court to refuse the application and instead remand him in EFCC custody to ensure his safety and prevent potential flight risk,” he said.

In response, Mordi argued that the defendant posed no flight risk and that the prosecution was not certain that the defendant had an Armenian passport.

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“Moreover, there is no Armenian Embassy in Nigeria that issues or prints passports,” Mordi added.

After listening to the submissions, Emeka Nwite, the presiding judge, adjourned the matter till May 17 for a ruling on the bail application.

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