Court documents show that Nigeria has charged Binance with tax evasion as executive escapes detention

Nigerian authorities have formally charged Binance and its detained executives Nadeem Anjarwalla and Tigran Gambarya with tax evasion, TechCabal can report. The office of Nigeria’s National Security Adviser (NSA) also confirmed reports that Anjarwalla escaped from detention and fled the country.

The government said Binance failed to register with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Nigeria’s tax collection agency, for tax purposes, an offence punishable under Section 8 of the Value Added Tax Act of 1993, according to court documents seen by TechCabal.

The crypto exchange was also accused of non-payment of value-added tax and company tax, and failure to file tax returns, said a charge filed before a Federal High Court in Abuja. Binance was also accused of aiding customers to evade taxes through its platform. The FIRS confirmed the charges, per reporting from Bloomberg.

Anjarwalla, a UK citizen, and  Gambaryan, a former US Internal Revenue Service special agent, have been in detention since February 26. The duo came to Nigeria when the government threatened to block access to the company’s website as part of a crackdown on forex speculation. 

On Monday, Premium Times reported that Anjarwalla escaped from the Abuja guest house where he and Gambaryan were detained after he was led to a nearby mosque to pray. He is believed to have flown out of the country using a Middle East airliner, the report said. The office of the NSA said he fled Nigeria using a smuggled passport. “Security agencies are working with Interpol for an international arrest warrant for the suspect,” it said in a statement.

Binance’s regulatory woes in Nigeria are in connection with a push by the government to halt speculation on forex trading, following volatility in the price of the naira. Last week, TechCabal reported that Nigeria’s central bank analysed peer-to-peer trading on Binance in February, confirming suspicions that some traders manipulated prices to benefit from the resulting arbitrage opportunity. A court ruling also mandates Binance to share user data with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Binance, which has disabled naira services on its platform, said it will comply with authorities. The company claimed that since 2020, it has responded to over 626 information requests that have assisted the government’s investigations into financial crimes such as scams, fraud, and money laundering. 

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