JUST IN: Binance executive escapes from custody in Nigeria

Nadeem Anjarwalla, one of the detained Binance executives in Nigeria facing allegations of tax evasion and other offenses, has reportedly escaped from custody.

According to a Premium Times report, the 38-year-old Anjarwalla escaped on Friday,  March 22, 2024, from the Abuja guest house, where he and his colleague were in custody after guards on duty led him to a nearby mosque for prayers in the spirit of the ongoing Ramadan fast.

The Briton, who also has Kenyan citizenship, is believed to have flown out of Abuja using a Middle East airliner.

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It remains unclear how Mr Anjarwalla got on an international flight despite his British passport, with which he entered Nigeria, remaining in the custody of the Nigerian authorities.

Authorities are also said to be working to unravel his intended destination in a bid to get him back into custody.

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An Immigration official quoted in the report said the Binance executive fled Nigeria on a Kenyan passport.

He, however, said authorities were trying to determine how he obtained the passport, given that he had no other travel document (apart from the British passport) on him.

Another source said the two officials were at a “comfortable guest house”. They were said to have been allowed many rights, including telephones, a privilege Anjarwalla exploited to plot an escape.

Anjarwalla, Binance’s Africa regional manager, and Tigran Gambaryan, a US citizen overseeing financial crime compliance at the crypto exchange platform, were detained upon their arrival in Nigeria on 26 February 2024.

The Nigerian government filed a criminal charge against the two executives before a Magistrate Court in Abuja.

On 28 February 2024, the court granted the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) an order to remand the duo for 14 days. The court also ordered Binance to provide the Nigerian government with the data/information of Nigerians trading on its platform.

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Following Binance’s refusal to comply with the order, the court extended the officials’ remand for an additional 14 days to prevent them from tampering with evidence. The court then adjourned the case until 4 April 2024.

Also, on 22 March, the Nigerian government approached the Federal High Court in Abuja. The government slammed Binance Holdings Limited, Anjarwalla, and Gambaryan with another four-count charge, accusing them of offering services to subscribers on their platform while failing to register with the Federal Inland Revenue Service to pay all relevant taxes administered by the Service and, in so doing, committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 8 of the Value Added Tax Act of 1993 (as Amended).

According to the Nigerian government, Binance offered taxable services to subscribers on their trading platform while failing to issue invoices to those subscribers to determine and pay their value-added taxes. In so doing, they committed an offence contrary to and punishable under S.29 of the Value Added Tax Act of 1993 (as amended).

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