Binance Executive Evades Nigerian Custody

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One of two Binance executives arrested in Nigeria in February evades custody as government files formal tax-evasion charges against crypto giant

One of two Binance executives detained in Nigeria has escaped custody, authorities there have said, as the Nigerian government filed new tax evasion charges against the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange.

British-Kenyan dual national Nadeem Anjarwalla was arrested in February along with US colleague Tigran Gambaryan after the two were invited to Nigerian capital Abuja to attend meetings with government officials.

Anjarwalla, Binance’s Africa regional manager, asked guards at the guest house where he was being held to allow him to go to a mosque last Friday and never returned, local media reported.

Authorities had reportedly confiscated his British passport but the whereabouts of his Kenyan passport were unknown.

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‘Thorough investigation’

“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,” said the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) in a statement.

It added that it was working with Interpol for an international arrest warrant.

“We were made aware that Nadeem is no longer in Nigerian custody. Our primary focus remains on the safety of our employees and we are working collaboratively with Nigerian authorities to quickly resolve this issue,” said a Binance spokesperson.

The two executives were due to appear in court early next month. A family source alleged the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s authorisation to hold the two had expired and that they were being held illegally.

Tax-evasion charges

Gambaryan, who heads financial crime compliance at Binance, is still in custody.

The Nigerian authorities have filed new tax-evasion charges against Binance at the High Court in Abuja, accusing the firm of non-payment of value-added tax and company income tax, failure to file tax returns and complicity in aiding customers to evade taxes.

Binance has not commented on the charges.

Nigeria is experiencing a financial crisis exacerbated by a free-fall of the value of the naira, which has lost nearly 70 percent of its value against the US dollar over the past year, and the government has accused Binance of facilitating currency speculation.

The government has also accuse the company of aiding money laundering and financing extremist organisations.