Binance generated 20bn from Nigeria in 2023, larger than health and education budget- Minister

Binance recorded a turnover of $20 billion in 2023 alone
Naira free fall: Nigerian authorities finally ban access to crypto exchanges

Cryptocurrency trading platform, Binance, recorded a turnover in Nigeria larger than the country’s budget for education and health. This was disclosed by Nigeria’s Minister for Information, Idris Mohammed while reacting to claims that one Binance executive, Tigran Gambaryan was been held hostage by the authorities.

In the minister’s statement made available by his spokesperson, Rabiu Ibrahim, Binance recorded a turnover of $20 billion in 2023 alone. This is despite not being registered to operate in the country and as such, has never paid a tax to the federal government despite making so much money.

It would be recalled that Binance had a turnover in Nigeria of over US$20 billion in 2023 alone, far above the federal budget for health and education, fueling currency speculation and the cost-of-living crisis. In addition, it is not registered in Nigeria and neither has it ever paid any taxes within the Nigerian jurisdiction, having all the while operated without oversight or any of the normal guard rails to flag criminal activity,” the minister’s statement reads.

The statement also said it is important that Binance is prefaced as an entity whose representatives have been variously imprisoned, fined, sanctioned, and banned in North America, Europe, and Asia, in recent years.

FG denies asking Binance for $150 million bribe to drop all criminal charges
Mohammed Idris, Nigeria’s Minister of Information

The minister also pointed out that Nigeria is not the only country Binance has faced legal action as it has been in crosshairs with the law in North America, Europe, and Asia. Some of its representatives have been imprisoned, fined, sanctioned, or banned, including its founder, Changpeng Zhao who is currently held in prison in the US.

Nigeria accused of keeping Binance executive hostage

This development is coming as a response to accusations by 16 American lawmakers that the Binance head of financial crime compliance, Tigran Gambaryan, a US citizen, was being held hostage in the West African country. 

In a letter to President Joe Biden, the 16 lawmakers, led by Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul, requested to the American president that the case be referred to the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs. 

“The charges against Mr. Gambaryan are baseless and constitute a coercion tactic by the Nigerian government to extort his employer, Binance. Following these charges, Mr. Gambaryan qualifies as a ‘U.S. Citizen wrongfully detained by a foreign government,’” the lawmakers said in their letter.

Tigran Gambaryan’s Nigeria ordeal

In February 2024, two Binance executives, Tigran Gambaryan, a U.S. citizen and Head of Financial Crime Compliance, and Nadeem Anjarwalla, a British Kenyan and Regional Manager for Africa were arrested and detained by Nigerian authorities. They were subsequently charged to court on four counts bordering on tax evasion and money laundering.

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

However, in March, one of the executives, Nadeem Anjarwalla, escaped EFCC custody and fled the country using a Middle East airliner. Later in the same month, there were reports that he was rearrested by Interpol, a report which the international police failed to substantiate. The Binance CEO also claimed at the time that it was working closely with the Nigerian government to resolve the situation.

But in an apparent change of stance, the CEO announced in a blog post 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. However, at the last hearing for the case at the Federal High Court in Abuja, Tigran Gambaryan failed to appear in court for his arraignment. Neither his lawyer nor the prosecuting counsel representing the Federal Inland Revenue Service are aware of his whereabouts.

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

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!