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Free Yet Unfree: Court Discharges Binance Officials in Tax Evasion Case

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A Federal High Court has discharged Tigran Gambaryan, a 39-year-old American, and Nadeem Anjarwalla from the tax evasion case instituted by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) against cryptocurrency exchange platform, Binance.

The decision came after fresh amended charges were filed by the FIRS, prompted by Binance’s appointment of a Nigerian representative named Ayodele Omotilewa.

Initially, FIRS had filed legal proceedings against Binance and Gambaryan on March 22, 2024, alleging tax evasion.

These allegations were later amended on May 17, 2024, accusing Binance of failing to collect and remit various taxes to the federation.

During Friday’s proceedings, Binance’s counsel informed the court that the company had provided the name of its official representative to FIRS and the court.

Subsequently, the FIRS requested to substitute the previous charges with the amended ones. In the fresh charges, Binance was listed as the sole defendant, indicating Gambaryan and Anjarwalla were no longer implicated in the case.

However, a debate arose regarding whether the Binance representative should enter the dock and take a plea on behalf of the corporation.

While the defence argued that Nigerian law doesn’t mandate a representative to do so, FIRS contended otherwise.

Ultimately, Justice Emeka Nwite struck out the charges filed on March 22, 2024, and May 17, 2024, and removed the names of Gambaryan and Anjarwalla from the case.

The court adjourned the matter to July 12 for the plea, instructing both parties to file written addresses on the issue of the Nigerian representative’s presence in the dock.

This ruling pertains to the FIRS matter, as Gambaryan and Anjarwalla remain defendants in a separate case filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The legal battle between the Federal Government and Binance intensified following accusations of influencing foreign exchange rates.

EFCC is separately prosecuting Binance and its executives over alleged money laundering and foreign exchange contravention.

The detention of Binance executives, including Gambaryan and Anjarwalla, and the ban on cryptocurrency channels by the Nigerian government have heightened tensions between the parties involved.

Binance maintains that the charges against Gambaryan are baseless and calls for his release while negotiations with Nigerian officials continue.

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