Binance exec denied bail in Nigeria money laundering trial


Tigran Gambaryan, a Binance executive detained in Nigeria since February, has reportedly been denied bail by a Nigerian court in a money laundering trial.

According to a local media report, Judge Emeka Nwite denied the bail application, stating that he believed Gambaryan posed a flight risk and would likely flee if released on bail.

Gambaryan, Binance Holdings and another senior executive, Nadeem Anjarwalla — who is currently at large — face charges from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) related to money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

The prosecution, led by Ekele Iheanacho, strongly objected to the bail application and highlighted that Gambaryan recently attempted to obtain a new passport under questionable circumstances after claiming his previous one was stolen.

Furthermore, Iheanacho said Gambaryan has no significant ties to any community in Nigeria. Iheanacho claimed that if granted bail, he is more likely to abscond like his colleague, Anjarwalla, who escaped Nigerian custody on March 22.

Anjarwalla and Gambaryan were taken into custody upon their arrival in Nigeria on Feb. 26. The arrest came after the federal government banned cryptocurrency channels as part of a campaign to curb currency speculation. The court mandated that Binance give the Nigerian government access to data and details of Nigerian traders using its platform.

However, Gambaryan also sued the Nigerian government for violating his fundamental human rights. Gambaryan’s motion claims that his detention in Nigeria and the confiscation of his passport violates the country’s constitution, which guarantees an individual’s right to personal liberty.

Related: Nigeria’s foreign investment at risk due to Binance bribery allegations

The Federal High Court in Abuja, Nigeria, had previously postponed the bail application hearing for Gambaryan, who is currently in custody at the Kuje correctional center.

Gambaryan was expected to return to court on April 19 following an initial postponement, and the question of bail was to be addressed on April 22. He has pleaded not guilty to tax evasion and money laundering charges brought by the EFCC.

On March 5, Binance announced that it would cease all Nigerian naira transactions, effectively exiting the market. Binance also said its peer-to-peer trading platform delisted all naira trading pairs in late February.

In a separate case in the United States, a federal judge sentenced former Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao to four months in prison for violating U.S. money laundering laws.

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