EFCC Charges Binance Executives With Money Laundering, Plans Extradition Of Fleeing Executive

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has charged Binance Holdings Limited and two of its senior executives, Tigran Gambaryan, and Nadeem Anjarwalla – who is on the run, with $35,400,000 in money laundering.

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 the escapee Anjarwalla.

It was learnt that the anti-graft commission is 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 Anjarwalla, the fugitive who fled from lawful custody in Nigeria.

Following the takeover of the investigation into the alleged financial irregularities committed by Binance, the EFCC has filed five-count charges bordering on money laundering against the cryptocurrency giant and two of its executives, Anjarwalla and Gambaryan.

A court document of 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 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 business of other financial institution (other than insurance, stock broking and pension fund management) without valid licence and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 58(5) of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, 2020.

“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 amongst 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.

“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.”

Recall that the Federal Government, on Monday, contacted the International Criminal Police Organisation and issued an arrest warrant for the apprehension of one of the detained executives of a global crypto-currency firm, Binance, Nadeem Anjarwalla, who escaped from lawful custody on Friday.

Recall that Anjarwalla, a suspect in the probe into the activities of Binance in Nigeria, reportedly used a Kenyan passport to escape, while his colleague was still in custody.

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

The Nigerian government had, in the past three months, been cracking down on suspected money launderers and terrorism financiers, some of whom it alleged were using the Binance platform for criminal activities

The Nigerian government said over $21.6bn was traded by Nigerians whose identities were concealed by Binance.

The government also claimed its investigations revealed that unscrupulous elements were using Binance for money laundering, terrorist financing, currency speculation, and market manipulation, distorting the Nigerian economy and weakening the naira against other currencies.

The detention of Binance officials in Nigeria began months after the crypto exchange platform pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $4.3bn to settle criminal money laundering charges levied by the US Department of Justice.

Binance founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao, also known as CZ, pleaded guilty and agreed to resign. His criminal trial has been postponed to April 30, 2024, by a US court.