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Binance executive lands in Kuje Prison over money laundering

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Binance executive lands in Kuje Prison over money laundering

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has remanded Binance Holdings Limited’s executive, Tigran Gambaryan, in Kuje Correctional Centre, Abuja, pending the determination of his bail application.

Justice Emeka Nwite gave the order after Gambaryan pleaded not guilty to the money laundering charges preferred against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Monday.

EFCC arraigned Gambaryan on an alleged money laundering charge following the dismissal of his objection by the court.

Gambaryan was arraigned by the EFCC on a five-count charge before Justice Nwite.

He was arraigned alongside Binance’s Nadeem Anjarwalla who is now at large.

The anti-graft agency had filed a money laundering charge against Binance, Gambaryan, and Anjarwalla as 1st to 3rd defendants, respectively.

Anjarwalla was said to have fled Nigeria after he escaped from custody on March 22.

In the five-count charge dated and filed on March 28 by EFCC, the defendants were accused of money laundering to the tune of $35,400,000.

Gambaryan, however, pleaded not guilty to the counts, while a non-guilty plea was also entered for Binance.

The judge had, last Thursday, fixed,
Monday, 8th April, for the ruling on the Binance official’s objection, raised by his lawyer, Mark Mordi, SAN.

Mordi had disagreed with the EFCC’s lawyer, Ekele Iheanacho’s application for the charge to be read to Gambaryan.

Mordi argued that Binance, listed as 1st defendant, ought to have been duly served before Gambaryan could take his plea.

The lawyer insisted that since it was a joint charge, the company must be served before his client could be arraigned.

He said his client was not a representative of the cryptocurrency firm in Nigeria.

But Iheanacho disagreed with Mordi, saying since Gambaryan represented Binance in Nigeria and that it is the law that he can be served on behalf of the firm.

According to him, if the company does not show up, a non-guilty plea can be entered for it in accordance with Section 478 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015.

He added that Gambaryan’s statement attached to the proof of evidence showed that he is an official of Binance in the country.

Delivering the ruling on Monday, Justice Nwite agreed with Iheanacho’s submission.

The judge held that from Gambaryan’s affidavit attached to his bail application, the United States citizen averred that he was representing Binance in Nigeria.

The judge, consequently, dismissed the preliminary objection and ordered him to enter his plea.

While Justice Nwite adjourned his bail application until April 18, he fixed May 2, 2024, for trial.

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