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EFCC takes over Binance case, to arraign executives Thursday, gets arrest warrant

EFCC takes over Binance case, to arraign executives Thursday, gets arrest warrant

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) will on Thursday arraign Binance Holdings Limited and two of its senior executives, Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla over an alleged $35,400,000 money laundering case.

Anjarwalla recently escaped from custody and fled Nigeria in a questionable circumstance.

The EFCC, which has now fully taken over the case from the Office of the National Security Adviser, has also detained Gambaryan and has obtained a court warrant to arrest and extradite Anjarwalla.

READ ALSO: How detained Binance executive tricked Nigerian security operatives to escape from custody despite passport seizure

Confirming the development on Friday, impeccable sources at EFCC said that Anjarwalla would be arraigned in absentia alongside Binance and Gambaryan.

“The detained Binance executive, Gambaryan, is now in the custody of the EFCC. The NSA has handed over the matter to the EFCC for investigation and prosecution. The commission has charged Binance, Gambaryan, and Anjarwalla to court for $35,400,000 money laundering, and they’ll be arraigned in court on Thursday, April 4, 2024,” Sunday PUNCH quoted a source to have said.

Another source waa equally quoted to have revealed that “The EFCC is now partnering with the International Criminal Police Organisation, the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation, the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the Kenyan government to effect the arrest and extradition of Mr Anjarwalla, the fugitive who fled from lawful custody in Nigeria.”

READ ALSO: BINANCE EXECUTIVE ESCAPE: Nigeria arrests suspected accomplices, declares Anjarwalla wanted

Following the takeover of the investigation into the financial irregularities allegedly committed by Binance, the EFCC has filed five counts bordering on money laundering against the cryptocurrency firm and two of its executives, Anjarwalla and Gambaryan.

The charges

The charges filed on Thursday, March 28, 2024 before the Federal High Court of Nigeria, Abuja division, read “That you, Binance Holdings Limited (aka Binance), Tigran Gambaryan, and Nadeem Anjarwalla (now at large), between January 2023 and January 2024 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court carried on specialised business of other financial institution without (a) valid licence and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 57(1) and (2) of the Banks and Other Financial, Institutions Act, 2020 and punishable under Section 57(5) of the same Act.

“Count two: That you, Binance Holdings Limited (aka Binance), Tigran Gambaryan, and Nadeem Anjarwalla (now at large), between January 2022 and January 2024 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court engaged in (the) business of other financial institution (other than insurance, stockbroking and pension fund management) without (a) valid licence and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 58(5) of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, 2020.

READ ALSO: Detained Binance executives sue Nigeria’s security adviser, EFCC, demand freedom

“Count three: That you, Binance Holdings Limited (aka Binance) between January 2022 and January 2024 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, not being an authorised dealer in Nigeria’s Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market, used your virtual asset services platform to unlawfully negotiate foreign exchange rates in Nigeria and you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 29(1) (c) of the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring And Miscellaneous Provisions) Act.

“Count four: That you, Binance Holdings Limited (aka Binance), Tigran Gambaryan, and Nadeem Anjarwalla (now at large), and other persons at large, between January 2023 and January 2024 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, conspired among yourselves to conceal the origin of the proceeds of your unlawful activities and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 21 (a) and punishable under Section 18(3) of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022.

READ ALSO: Nigeria seeks fresh court order to keep Binance officials in detention

“Count five: That you, Binance Holdings Limited (aka Binance), Tigran Gambaryan, and Nadeem Anjarwalla, between January 2023 and December 2023 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court concealed the origin of a cumulative sum of $35,400, 000 generated as revenue by Binance in Nigeria knowing that the funds constituted proceeds of unlawful activity and you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 18(3) of the Money Laundering (Prevention and prohibition) Act, 2022.”

INTERPOL involved

The Nigerian government, on Monday, contacted INTERPOL and issued an arrest warrant for the apprehension of one of the detained executives of Binance, Anjarwalla, who escaped from lawful custody the previous Friday.

It was gathered from the Office of the National Security Adviser that Anjarwalla used a Kenyan passport to escape, while his colleague was still in custody.

Anjarwalla, who has British and Kenyan nationalities, escaped from Abuja through a Middle East airliner, as his firm confirmed that he was no longer in the country, adding that it would cooperate with security agencies.

Shocking escape

The escape shocked security agencies, as they revealed that the fleeing executive was kept in a “safe house” guarded by soldiers, adding that the security guards on duty had been detained.

The ONSA confirmed the escape of Anjarwalla in a statement issued in Abuja on Monday by the Head of Strategic Communication, Zakari Mijinyawa, who stated that preliminary investigation showed that the escapee fled Nigeria using a smuggled passport.

He noted that efforts were ongoing to arrest the suspect.

ONSA statement

The statement read, “The Office of the National Security Adviser confirms that Nadeem Anjarwalla, a suspect in the ongoing criminal probe into the activities of Binance in Nigeria, has escaped from lawful custody on Friday, March 22, 2024.

“Upon receiving this report, this office took immediate steps, in conjunction with relevant security agencies, Ministries, Departments, and Agencies, as well as the international community, to apprehend the suspect.

READ ALSO: Binance officially blocks website in Nigeria

“Security agencies are working with INTERPOL for an international arrest warrant on the suspect. Preliminary investigation shows that Mr Anjarwalla fled Nigeria using a smuggled passport.”

Mijinyawa noted that the personnel responsible for the custody of Anjarwalla had been arrested, adding that investigations were ongoing to unravel the circumstances surrounding his escape.

He added, “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.

“Recall that the Federal Government of Nigeria, like other governments around the world, has been investigating money laundering and terrorism financing transactions perpetrated on the Binance currency exchange platform.

“Until his escape, Nadeem Anjarwalla, who holds British and Kenyan nationalities and served as Binance’s Africa regional manager, was being tried by Nigerian courts.

“The suspect escaped while under a 14-day remand order by a court in Nigeria. He was scheduled to appear before the court again on April 4, 2024.”

The ONSA spokesperson urged Nigerians and the international community to help with information that could lead to the arrest of the suspect.

READ ALSO: Crypto giant Binance faces allegation of commingling customers funds and company revenue

“We urge the Nigerian public and the international community to provide whatever information they have that can assist law enforcement agencies to apprehend the suspect,” Mijinyawa added.

Financial Times reported on February 28, 2024, that two executives of the company were arrested and detained after they flew into Nigeria as a result of a ban on their website.

On March 12, 2024, the FT reported that the EFCC asked Binance to share data on its 100 top users in Nigeria as well as transaction history for the past six months.

According to the report, the request is at the centre of negotiations between Binance and Nigeria.

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