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Detained Binance Executive Escapes From Custody In Nigeria Using Kenyan Passport

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Nadeem Anjarwalla, one of the two Binance executives detained in Nigeria for alleged tax evasion and other offences, has escaped from lawful custody.

Nadeem Anjarwalla, Binance director for West & East Africa and one of the firm’s two executives detained in Nigeria over tax evasion charges has escaped custody.

According to reports from Nigerian media, the 38-year-old Briton, who also holds Kenyan citizenship, disappeared on Friday, March 22nd. Anjarwalla was allegedly allowed to leave the Abuja guest house, where he and a colleague were being held, for Ramadan prayers. Authorities believe he used this opportunity to escape.

Guards on duty reportedly escorted Anjarwalla to a nearby mosque, adhering to religious customs during the holy month. However, the executive vanished during this brief outing.

An Immigration source claims Anjarwalla used a Kenyan passport to flee the country on a Middle Eastern airline. Authorities are currently investigating how he obtained this passport, as he reportedly had only a British passport upon his arrest.

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This escape raises questions about security protocols at the detention facility and the potential involvement of the guards. The Nigerian government is likely to face heightened scrutiny as they work to recapture Anjarwalla and determine how he managed to escape.

Why the Binance executives got arrested

Tigran Gambaryan, a U.S. citizen and Binance’s head of financial crime compliance, and Anjarwalla, a British-Kenyan, flew to Nigeria following the country’s decision to ban several cryptocurrency trading websites and were detained on arrival on Feb. 26.

The two were caught up in a crackdown following a period during which several cryptocurrency websites emerged as platforms of choice for trading the Nigerian currency, as the country battles chronic dollar shortages.

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A criminal charge was filed 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 remand of the officials for an additional 14 days to prevent them from tampering with evidence. The court then adjourned the case till 4 April 2024.

Also on 22 March, the Nigerian government approached the Federal High Court in Abuja and slammed another four-count charge on Binance Holdings Limited, Mr Anjarwalla and Mr Gambaryan, 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).

The defendants were also accused of offering taxable services to subscribers on their trading platform while failing to issue invoices to those subscribers to determine and pay their value-added taxes and, in so doing, committed an offence contrary to and punishable under S.29 of the Value Added Tax Act of 1993 (as amended).

Count Three of the charges accused the three defendants of offering services to subscribers on their Binance trading platform for the buying and selling of cryptocurrencies and the remittance and transfer of those assets while failing to deduct the necessary Value Added Taxes arising from their operations and thereby committing an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 40 of the Federal Inland Revenue Service Establishment Act 2007 (as amended).

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The last count of the charges wants the defendants punished for allegedly aiding and abetting subscribers on their Binance trading platform to unlawfully refuse to pay taxes or neglect to pay those taxes and, in so doing, committing an offence contrary to and punishable under the provisions of S.94 of the Companies Income Tax Act (as amended).

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The company announced early this month that it was stopping all transactions and trading in Nigeria’s naira currency after March 8.

(Additional reporting by agencies)


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