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Binance’s $20Bn Turnover From Nigeria Is Far Above Our Health, Education Budgets

The Nigerian government says due processes are being applied in all stages of the trial of cryptocurrency platform Binance and its executives in line with the laws of the country.

It noted that this is against the backdrop of continuing interest in the ongoing trial of the “rogue online platform, Binance, and one of its Chief Executives, who illegally trade in cryptocurrency in Nigeria”.

This was disclosed by the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, in a statement on Wednesday signed by Rabiu Ibrahim, Special Assistant (Media) to the minister.

“At all stages, due process has been followed, and prosecutors are confident of their case, based on the facts and evidence gathered. Binance will have every opportunity to defend itself in court against these severe charges of financial crimes against the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The next hearing is on June 20, 2024,” Idris said.

The minister explained that Binance, the defendant, has received consular access and all due care, following normal diplomatic protocols and the rule of law.

He added that the judge in the case has sufficiently posited that bail was denied because of the flight risk, after a co-accused, now the subject of an Interpol warrant, illegally absconded.

The statement said, “It would be recalled that Binance had a turnover in Nigeria of over US$20 billion in 2023 alone, far above the federal budget for health and education, fueling currency speculation and the cost-of-living crisis.

“In addition, it is not registered in Nigeria and neither has it ever paid any taxes within the Nigerian jurisdiction, having all the while operated without oversight or any of the normal guard rails to flag criminal activity.

“Idris said it is important that Binance is prefaced as an entity whose representatives have been variously imprisoned, fined, sanctioned, and banned in North America, Europe, and Asia, in recent years.

“Changpeng Zhao, the billionaire co-founder and former CEO of Binance is currently serving a four-month prison sentence in the United States after being found guilty of money laundering, while Binance has openly accepted its role in facilitating terrorism, corruption, sanctions busting, and in aiding and abetting paedophile gangs.”

“Law enforcement agencies believe Binance operations in Nigeria are part of a broader international pattern. It will be for the courts here, as in other jurisdictions, to hold the company and its executives accountable,” Idris said.

SaharaReporters earlier on Wednesday reported that 16 United States lawmakers had written to President Joe Biden asking him to bring back Tigran Gambaryan, the Binance executive who has been detained in Nigeria for almost three months over money laundering charges.

Gambaryan and his colleague, Nadeem Anjarwalla, were arrested and detained on February 26 following an investigation into Binance’s activities in Nigeria.

Subsequently, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Nigeria's anti-corruption agency charged Gambaryan, his company, Binance Holdings Limited and Anjarwalla, a fellow top executive currently on the run before a Federal High Court in Abuja sitting with money laundering and terrorism financing.

He was arraigned on five counts bordering on alleged tax evasion, currency speculation and money laundering to the tune of $34,400,000. Following the escape of his colleague, Anjarwalla, the trial judge, Justice Emeka Nwite, refused to grant his bail application on May 17, 2024.

Delivering the ruling on the bail application Justice Nwite held that after carefully going through the application submitted before him, he resolved that the defendant would jump bail if granted.

SaharaReporters reported on May 1, 2024, that Yuki, Gambaryan’s wife had raised the alarm over her husband’s continued incarceration in Kuje prison.

She claimed her husband was put together with Boko Haram terrorists and bandits.

Yuki told the United States Parliament that her husband had spent 65 days in custody in Nigeria.

Meanwhile, Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the House Foreign Affairs Committee chair, along with 15 other leaders, in a letter sent to President Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger D. Carstens, dated Tuesday, June 4, 2024, demanded an immediate action regarding the U.S. citizen.

In the letter, they urged the president to treat Gambaryan's case as a hostage situation and bring him back to the U.S.

“We fear for his life. Immediate action is essential to ensure his safety and preserve his life. We must act swiftly before it is too late,” they said.

In the letter which Eleanor Terrett shared on her social media handle, the lawmakers claimed that Gambaryan has contracted malaria and is being refused adequate treatment by Nigerian prison officials.

They opined that he had been unlawfully detained for three months in Nigeria.

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