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Binance executive skips court; fears rise for safety

The tax evasion trial of Binance executive Tigran Gambaryan, being held in Nigeria, took an unexpected turn when he failed to show up in court. This time, it raised concerns about his physical safety, given the notorious conditions of Kuje prison, where he is being held.

Court Hearings and Adjournment

Nigerian Federal Inland Revenue Service has charged Binance and its executives, including Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, over allegations of tax evasion. The charges are based on accusations that Binance did not register with FIRS and issue the necessary invoices for services on its platform that would attract taxes, thus evading significant taxes.

The trial, scheduled for May 22nd, was adjourned to June 14th, as Gambaryan did not appear in court. The prosecution counsel, Moses Idehu, lamented the failure of the prison service to produce Gambaryan, saying the continued embarrassment that the Nigerian government is facing over this saga. The defence counsel, Chukwuka Ikwuazo (SAN), asked for an adjournment, promising to produce Gambaryan at the next hearing.

Gambaryan is being detained at Kuje prison, a facility known for poor living conditions and security breaches, including an attack by Islamic militants in 2022. Notably, his failure to appear in court brought serious concerns about his physical safety. With the harsh conditions in Kuje prison, questions are arising about the safety and health of the executive.

This case is part of a broader crackdown on cryptocurrency activities in Nigeria. Binance is facing a four-count charge for failing to register with the FIRS and evading taxes. Additionally, Gambaryan and Anjarwalla are accused of laundering over $35 million, with the money laundering trial scheduled to proceed separately.

Next Hearing Date

The court adjourned the matter to June 14 for Binance and Gambaryan’s possible arraignment. As the case continues, concerns are already raised about Gambaryan’s safety and the implications of a wider Crypto Regulation in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, Binance’s CEO Richard Teng has attacked Nigeria’s approach, stating, “The detention of executives at the invitation of the country’s government sets a dangerous precedent.” Binance has been actively working with the relevant authorities in Nigeria to address these issues and ensure compliance with local regulations.

Also Read How the laws & regulations affecting blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, can impact its adoption

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