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EFCC Charges Binance Executives With Money Laundering | Citizen NewsNG

ByCitizen NewsNG

Mar 31, 2024

By Tanko Lami

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is set to arraign two senior executives of Binance Holdings Limited, Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, on Thursday for their alleged involvement in a $35.4 million money laundering case.

Gambaryan has been detained, and an arrest warrant has been issued against Anjarwalla, who fled custody in Nigeria.

The EFCC took over the case from the Office of the National Security Adviser, charging Binance, Gambaryan, and Anjarwalla with various counts of financial irregularities.

Despite Anjarwalla’s escape, he will be arraigned in absentia alongside his co-accused.

A reliable source at the anti-graft agency told Punch that: “The detained Binance executive, Gambaryan, is now in the custody of the EFCC. The NSA has handed over the matter to the EFCC for investigation and prosecution. The commission has charged Binance, Gambaryan, and Anjarwalla to court for $35,400,000 money laundering, and they’ll be arraigned in court on Thursday, April 4, 2024.”

Another source revealed, “The EFCC is now partnering with the International Criminal Police Organisation, the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation, the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the Kenyan government to effect the arrest and extradition of Mr Anjarwalla, the fugitive who fled from lawful custody in Nigeria.”

After assuming control of the probe into the suspected financial misconduct by Binance, the EFCC has lodged five charges related to money laundering against the cryptocurrency company and its executives, Anjarwalla and Gambaryan.

The charges read, “That you, Binance Holdings Limited (aka Binance), Tigran Gambaryan, and Nadeem Anjarwalla (now at large), between January 2023 and January 2024 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court carried on specialised business of other financial institution without (a) valid licence and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 57(1) and (2) of the Banks and Other Financial, Institutions Act, 2020 and punishable under Section 57(5) of the same Act.

“Count two: That you, Binance Holdings Limited (aka Binance), Tigran Gambaryan, and Nadeem Anjarwalla (now at large), between January 2022 and January 2024 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court engaged in (the) business of other financial institution (other than insurance, stockbroking and pension fund management) without (a) valid licence and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 58(5) of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, 2020.

“Count three: That you, Binance Holdings Limited (aka Binance) between January 2022 and January 2024 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, not being an authorised dealer in Nigeria’s Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market, used your virtual asset services platform to unlawfully negotiate foreign exchange rates in Nigeria and you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 29(1) (c) of the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring And Miscellaneous Provisions) Act.

“Count four: That you, Binance Holdings Limited (aka Binance), Tigran Gambaryan, and Nadeem Anjarwalla (now at large), and other persons at large, between January 2023 and January 2024 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, conspired among yourselves to conceal the origin of the proceeds of your unlawful activities and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 21 (a) and punishable under Section 18(3) of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022.

“Count five: That you, Binance Holdings Limited (aka Binance), Tigran Gambaryan, and Nadeem Anjarwalla, between January 2023 and December 2023 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court concealed the origin of a cumulative sum of $35,400, 000 generated as revenue by Binance in Nigeria knowing that the funds constituted proceeds of unlawful activity and you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 18(3) of the Money Laundering (Prevention and prohibition) Act, 2022.”

On Monday, the Federal Government reached out to INTERPOL and issued an arrest warrant for one of the detained Binance executives, Anjarwalla, who had escaped lawful custody the previous Friday.

Sources from the Office of the National Security Adviser revealed that Anjarwalla utilised a Kenyan passport to flee, while his colleague remained in custody.

Anjarwalla, holding British and Kenyan citizenship, departed from Abuja via a Middle Eastern airline.

His company acknowledged his absence from the country and pledged cooperation with security agencies.

Security agencies were taken aback by the escape, disclosing that Anjarwalla had been housed in a secured location under military guard, and the guards have been apprehended.

In a statement issued on Monday in Abuja, the Head of Strategic Communication for the ONSA, Zakari Mijinyawa, confirmed Anjarwalla’s escape.

Preliminary investigations revealed that he fled Nigeria using a smuggled passport. Efforts to apprehend him are ongoing.

The statement read, “The Office of the National Security Adviser confirms that Nadeem Anjarwalla, a suspect in the ongoing criminal probe into the activities of Binance in Nigeria, has escaped from lawful custody on Friday, March 22, 2024.

“Upon receiving this report, this office took immediate steps, in conjunction with relevant security agencies, Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, as well as the international community, to apprehend the suspect.

“Security agencies are working with INTERPOL for an international arrest warrant on the suspect. Preliminary investigation shows that Mr Anjarwalla fled Nigeria using a smuggled passport.”

Mijinyawa also disclosed that authorities had detained the personnel responsible for overseeing Anjarwalla’s custody.

Investigations are currently ongoing to ascertain the circumstances leading to his escape.

He added, “The personnel responsible for the custody of the suspect have been arrested, and a thorough investigation is ongoing to unravel the circumstances that led to his escape from lawful detention.“

Recall that the Federal Government of Nigeria, like other governments around the world, has been investigating money laundering and terrorism financing transactions perpetrated on the Binance currency exchange platform.

Until his escape, Nadeem Anjarwalla, who holds British and Kenyan nationalities and served as Binance’s Africa regional manager, was being tried by Nigerian courts.

The suspect escaped while under a 14-day remand order by a court in Nigeria. He was scheduled to appear before the court again on April 4, 2024.

The ONSA spokesperson called on Nigerians and the international community to provide any information that could aid in the apprehension of the suspect.

“We urge the Nigerian public and the international community to provide whatever information they have that can assist law enforcement agencies to apprehend the suspect,” Mijinyawa added.

On February 28, 2024, the Financial Times reported that two company executives were arrested and held in custody upon their arrival in Nigeria due to a ban on their website.

Subsequently, on March 12, 2024, the Financial Times revealed that the EFCC requested Binance to provide data on its top 100 users in Nigeria and their transaction history over the past six months.

This request forms a central point of negotiation between Binance and Nigeria, as reported.

© The Punch

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