Disquiet as detained Binance executive Anjarwalla ‘escapes’ from detention

Anjarwalla.
Anjarwalla.
Disquiet as detained Binance executive Anjarwalla ‘escapes’ from detention

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

According to a report by an online newspaper, PremiumTimes, Anjarwalla, 38, escaped on Friday, March 22, 2024, from the Abuja guest house where he and his colleague were detained after guards on duty led him to a nearby mosque for prayers in the spirit of the ongoing Ramadan fast.

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On how he was able to escape, an Immigration official told PremiumTimes that Anjarwalla, who also has Kenyan citizenship, is believed to have flown out of Abuja using a Middle East airliner.

“Binance executive fled Nigeria on a Kenyan passport as authorities are trying to determine how he obtained the passport, given that he had no other travel document (apart from the British passport) on him when he was taken into custody,” the source said.

Another source told the newspaper that the suspect was held at a “comfortable guest house” and allowed many rights, including the use of telephones, a privilege Anjarwalla is believed to have exploited to plot an escape.

When contacted on Sunday night on the escape of the Binance executive from detention, the Head of Strategic Communication at the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), Zakari Mijinyawa, said he would enquire and revert. He has yet to do so as of the time of filing this report.

Anjarwalla, Binance’s Africa regional manager, and Tigran Gambaryan, a US citizen overseeing financial crime compliance at the crypto exchange platform, were detained upon their arrival in Nigeria on February 26, 2024.

A criminal charge was filed against the two executives before a Magistrate Court in Abuja. On February 28, 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.

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 April 4, 2024.

Also on March 22, the Nigerian government approached the Federal High Court in Abuja and slammed another four-count charge on Binance Holdings Limited, Anjarwalla and Gambaryan, accusing them of offering services to subscribers on their platform while failing to register with the Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) 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).

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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