Nigeria defends Binance exec prosecution amid US lawmakers’ criticism

The Nigerian Minister of Information, Mohammed Idris, said the trial of Binance and its executive, Tigran Gambaryan, for illegal cryptocurrency trading in Nigeria follows the country’s legal procedures.

According to the statement, Idris reportedly said that the legal proceedings have followed due process at every stage, and prosecutors are confident in their case based on the evidence gathered.

He noted that Binance will have the opportunity to defend itself against the severe financial crime charges in court, with the next hearing scheduled for June 20, 2024.

U.S. politicians call for Binance exec’s release

The minister’s statement follows a recent appeal by 12 United States politicians to President Joe Biden urging the U.S. government to use its hostage affairs unit to facilitate the release of Gambaryan.

The letter noted that Gambaryan had been charged with several “baseless” crimes, including money laundering and tax evasion, which they believe is part of a coercion tactic by Nigerian authorities to extort Binance.

Related: Nigerian officials proposed secret crypto settlement, claims Binance CEO

However, the minister assured that Binance had received appropriate consular access from the U.S. and all due care, following standard diplomatic protocols and the rule of law.

He said that bail was denied due to the defendant’s high flight risk, mainly because a co-defendant, who is now the subject of an Interpol arrest warrant, fled the country illegally.

Binance’s legal challenges in Nigeria

Binance and its executives are facing two separate suits by the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. The former borders on tax evasion, while the latter concerns money laundering and foreign exchange contravention.

In February, the Nigerian government arrested Gambaryan, a U.S. citizen, and Nadeem Anjarwalla on suspicion of money laundering and tax evasion. Anjarwalla evaded custody and fled to Kenya while his colleague remained in the Kuje correctional center in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja.

The arrest came after the federal government banned cryptocurrency channels as part of a campaign to curb currency speculation. The court mandated that Binance give the Nigerian government access to data and details of Nigerian traders using its platform.

Magazine: Cleaning up crypto: How much enforcement is too much?

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