BREAKING: Nigerian government files tax evasion charges against Binance after executive escapes from custody

The Nigerian government has filed tax evasion charges against cryptocurrency company, Binance.

The charges, filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja, were announced on Monday by the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS.

The lawsuit, designated as suit number FHC/ABJ/CR/115/2024, implicates Binance with a four-count tax evasion accusation.

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Accompanying the crypto company as second and third defendants in the suit are Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, both senior executives of Binance currently held in custody by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The charges leveled against Binance include allegations of non-payment of Value-Added Tax (VAT), Company Income Tax, failure to file tax returns, and complicity in aiding customers to evade taxes through its platform.

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Furthermore, the Federal Government accuses Binance of neglecting to register with FIRS for tax purposes and contravening existing tax regulations within the country.

One of the counts in the lawsuit pertains to Binance’s purported failure to collect and remit various categories of taxes to the federation, as stipulated by Section 40 of the FIRS Establishment Act 2007 as amended.

This section explicitly addresses the non-deduction and non-remittance of taxes, prescribing penalties and potential imprisonment for defaulting entities.

The charges outline specific instances where Binance allegedly violated tax laws, such as the failure to issue invoices for VAT purposes, thereby impeding the determination and payment of taxes by subscribers.

“Any company that conducts business exceeding N25 million annually is deemed, by the Finance Act, to be present in Nigeria,” the FIRS noted in a statement.

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“According to this rule, Binance falls into that category. So, it is obligated to pay taxes like Company Income Tax (CIT) and also collect and remit Value Added Tax (VAT). However, Binance did not adhere to these requirements, thus violating Nigerian laws and potentially facing investigation and legal action for this infraction.”

The Federal Government says it remains steadfast in its commitment to ensuring compliance with tax regulations and combating financial impropriety within the cryptocurrency sector.

By law, FIRS is empowered to assess, collect, and account for revenue accruing to the Federation and administer relevant tax laws.

Binance previously pleaded guilty to violating anti-money laundering laws in the United States in late 2023, reaching a plea bargain agreement that resulted in the company paying a hefty fine of $4.3 billion.

This comes after Nadeem Anjarwalla, one of the two Binance executives detained in Nigeria escaped from custody.

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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.

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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