Alleged tax evasion: Binance executive Gambaryan fails to show up in court

This comes weeks after another Binance executive, Nadeem Anjarwalla, escaped custody and fled Nigeria
Nigeria arraigns detained Binance executive for tax evasion, laundry of $35m
Tigran Gambaryan sits as he waits to face prosecution for tax evasion and money laundering at the federal high court in Abuja, Nigeria April 4, 2024. REUTERS/ Abraham Achirga

A Binance executive standing trial for alleged tax evasion at the Federal High Court in Abuja, Tigran Gambaryan, has failed to appear in court today for his arraignment. Neither his lawyer nor the prosecuting counsel representing the Federal Inland Revenue Service are aware of his whereabouts.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria, Gambaryan’s case, which was scheduled for arraignment alongside co-defendant, Binance, before Justice Emeka Nwite, could not proceed due to the absence of Gambaryan who is supposedly held at the Kuje Prison in Abuja.

Recall that on Friday, the Justice had rejected Gambaryan’s bail application and ordered that he be remanded in custody following a new charge of laundry levelled against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The Justice held that the evidence presented by the EFCC against the defendant of being a flight risk was overwhelming and ordered him to be remanded in prison until the hearing and determination of the money laundering charge.

See also: Binance expresses disappointment as Nigerian court denies executive bail in money laundering trial

However, when the matter was called today in the case filed by the FIRS, the Binance executive was nowhere to be found in court even though all the counsel to the parties were present. Quizzed about the whereabouts of the executive who was held in a federal government facility, FIRS lawyer, Moses Ideho, told the court that Gambaryan was supposed to be produced from custody.

“I don’t know the reason he is not here. We have been trying to get to members of the correctional centre but we have been unable to get why they are not here. The correctional centre has the right to bring him to court,” he said before praying the court for a stand-down of the case.

Nigerian court remands Binance executive, Tigran Gambaryan in custody
Tigran Gambaryan and his counsels in court. Source: Nairamatrics.

Tigran Gambaryan’s lawyer, Chukwuka Ikwuazo, SAN, disagreed, insisting that the FIRS lawyer cannot say he did not know the whereabouts of the Binance executive since he was under the custody of the Federal Government which he represented in court.

He also pointed out that they had been in court since 9 am and did not see any reason the matter would be stood down.

Binance’s lawyer, Tonye Krukrubo, SAN, also disagreed with Ideho’s plea for a stand-down insisting that the government lawyer ought to have known that the defendant would not be brought to court.

FIRS lawyer, Ideho further urged the court to stand down the matter in order to confirm if the prison officers were on their way or why they were not in court.

“It is unfortunate he is not here my lord and it is not my fault,” he said

He then sought an adjournment, pledging that the agency would communicate with the officers of the correctional centre to ensure that Gambaryan was produced early in court.

Justice Nwite adjourned the matter until June 14 for arraignment.

Tigran Gambaryan and the Binance debacle

The latest development comes weeks after another Binance executive, Nadeem Anjarwalla who is the third respondent to the case, escaped custody in Nigeria and fled the country. Anjarwalla, alongside Gambaryan, were both arrested upon their arrival in Nigeria in February following a federal government crackdown on their organisation while trying to arrest the slump of the Naira.

Richard Teng - Binance CEO
Richard Teng – Binance CEO

While Binance CEO, Richard Teng initially claimed at the time that it was working closely with the Nigerian government to resolve the situation, he would later announce that the Nigerian authorities were demanding a hefty bribe from its detained executives to make the money laundering trial initiated against them go away.

The Federal government has since vehemently debunked the claim and has proceeded to ensure the law takes its full course.

See also: FG denies asking Binance for $150 million bribe to drop all criminal charges

Technext Newsletter

Get the best of Africa’s daily tech to your inbox – first thing every morning.
Join the community now!

Register for Technext Coinference 2023, the Largest blockchain and DeFi Gathering in Africa.

Technext Newsletter

Get the best of Africa’s daily tech to your inbox – first thing every morning.
Join the community now!