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Binance Executive Escapes from Custody in Nigeria

Crypto | March 26, 2024

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Facing Legal Charges, Binance Executive, Nadeem Anjarwalla, Flees Nigeria

According to Premium Times and several outlets, Nadeem Anjarwalla, a British-Kenyan Binance executive, escaped from custody in Nigeria after being detained on charges of tax evasion and other offenses.  The Nigerian government has leveled multiple charges against Binance and its executives, including failure to register with the Federal Inland Revenue Service, non-payment of value-added tax (VAT), and aiding customers in tax evasion. These charges highlight the Nigerian authorities' crackdown on financial crimes and tax evasion, especially within the cryptocurrency sector.

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  • Nadeem Anjarwalla, a British-Kenyan citizen and a Binance executive, along with Tigran Gambaryan, a U.S. citizen overseeing financial crime compliance at Binance, were detained in Nigeria upon their arrival on February 26, 2024. They were held for alleged tax evasion and other offenses.
  • Shortly after their detention, Anjarwalla escaped from custody on March 22, 2024. He was taken from the Abuja guest house, where he was detained, to a nearby mosque for prayers due to the ongoing Ramadan fast. It is believed he then used a Middle East airliner to fly out of Abuja. His escape was facilitated despite his British passport, used to enter Nigeria, being held by Nigerian authorities. He reportedly fled using a Kenyan passport, raising questions about how he obtained it.
  • Following the escape, the Nigerian government sought assistance from Interpol to issue an international arrest warrant for Anjarwalla.
  • The incident has prompted discussions within Nigerian security and immigration circles about the oversight and security measures that allowed the escape.  The Nigerian government has expressed its intention to pursue the case, emphasizing the need for compliance with its tax and financial regulations by international companies operating within its borders.

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  • The legal challenges faced by Binance in Nigeria have broader implications for the cryptocurrency industry, especially in emerging markets where regulatory frameworks are evolving. The incident has sparked discussions about the need for clearer regulations, better compliance mechanisms, and more robust engagement between cryptocurrency platforms and local authorities.

Why This Matters

As former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) awaits sentencing in the United States, the escape of Nadeem Anjarwalla from Nigerian custody adds another layer to the legal challenges confronting the company. This incident highlights the pressing need for stringent compliance frameworks full stop.

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