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Court: Binance exec disrespected constitution of Nigeria

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A court ruling stated that the detained executive of Binance was found in violation of Nigerian constitutional law, sparking legal concerns.

The federal high court in Abuja, Nigeria has refused Binance executives bail as EFCC presents their first witness. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission confirmed this on their X account that the presiding judge, Justice Emeka Nwite rejected the bail application filed by Tigran Gambaryan, a Binance executive and a second defendant in an alleged tax evasion, currency speculation, and money laundering case to the tune of $34,400,000 (Thirty-Four Million, Four Hundred Thousand United States Dollars). 

According to the EFCC, the judge conceded that the defendant did not respect the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The judge also said that soon after his arraignment on April 8, 2024, he came up with a plan to escape from legal custody in the same way that his partner and the defendant, Nadeem Anjarwalla, did.

The judge also said that both suspects shared the same cell in jail before the defendant escaped and that some of his co-conspirators are now on the run in the UK.

In the court proceedings, the prosecution counsel, Ekele Iheanacho got the permission of the court to present the First Prosecution Witness (PW1), Abdulqadir Abbas, director of operations with the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, to commence the examination-in-chief. 

Mr Abbas disclosed that he met the defendant for the first time in a meeting at the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA). According to him, the defendant is operating a platform not registered or regulated by the SEC which he said was in breach of the extant provision of Investment and Securities Act 2007. 

He further said that in addition to the defendant operating an unregistered platform is the making of public solicitation from Nigerians by the defendant without authorization by the SEC which he said was also a violation. 

According to Mr. Abbas, the defendant operates “a net Naira Peer to Peer, P2P, a transaction in exchange for crypto access” without authorization.

Per the EFCC, the witness also confirmed that the CBN had banned banks from providing settlement platforms for crypto exchanges, stating that the Binance platform became the reference point for determining exchange rates. This is a result of the Naira P2P deployed by Binance and coupled with the large number of Nigerian users on the platform. He added that this adversely affected the official exchange rate.

Five counts have been brought against the defendants by the EFCC. These include tax evasion, currency speculation, and money laundering worth $34,400,000 (thirty-four million US dollars).4

 

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