June 23, 2024

The Binance executive detained in Nigeria, Tigran Gambaryan, collapsed during a trial session in the Federal High Court, Abuja. The executive is facing money laundering charges from the Nigeria Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). 

Previously, his attorney notified the court of Gambaryan’s health issues. Notably, Gambaryan is one of the two Banance senior executives detained by Nigerian authorities on February 28.

Court Adjourns Trial Following the Binance Exec’s Collapse 

According to local news outlet Nairametrics, a trial of the detained Binance executive Gambaryan followed a dramatic pattern. During a money laundering trial in Nigeria, the exec suddenly slumped in the courtroom.

The report noted that Gambaryan’s lawyer, Mark Mordi (SAN), told the court about his client’s health issues. According to Mordi, Gambaryan has been sick since the previous trial date.

However, on May 16, the judge denied him bail. He cited the EFCC’s concerns that Gambaryan poses a flight risk if suddenly released from detention.

Gambrayan skipped the trial session on tax evasion the same day, as charged by the Nigeria Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS). However, he appeared in the Federal High Court on the money laundering charges.

When the court registrar called the case during the money laundering proceedings, Gambaryan didn’t respond. Instead, he remained seated in the back row.

Judge Emeka Nwite demanded an explanation after noting the defendant’s absence. Subsequently, Gambaryan’s attorney, Mordi, helped him to the dock. However, Gambaryan’s health issues seemed quite intense as he suddenly slumped. This prompted his lawyer to assist him in getting to the front-row seat.

Further, Mordi pointed out his client’s health problems since his detention and revealed an earlier application he submitted to inform the court about the situation.

Additionally, Mordi requested an adjournment of the trial based on Gambaryan’s sudden collapse during the trial. He noted the irrationality of continuing to proceed with his client’s present health condition.  

So, the judge retorted Mordi’s explanation and set new dates for cross-examination and trial on June 20 and 21, respectively.

Binance maintained an open window for Nigerians to engage on its platform through peer-to-peer crypto trading. It provided an option allowing users to complete their transactions with Nigeria naira.

However, the Nigerian authorities put up stricter measures in crypto regulations and accused Binance of influencing foreign exchange rates. 

When Nigeria called for discussions with Binance, the crypto exchange sent their executives, Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla. Nigeria detained the executives on February 28, but Anjarwalla escaped detention.

Gambaryan pleaded not guilty to the EFCC’s money laundering charges against him in April. However, the authorities moved him to the Kuje Correctional Centre in Abuja since then.

In March, the FIRS filed a lawsuit against Binance and its executives for tax evasion. The charges highlighted Binance’s non-registration with the agency and failure to pay income tax and VAT.

Meanwhile, on March 5, Binance turned off all transactions in naira, expecting Nigeria to release its staff. In late February, the exchange also shut down all naira trading pairs on its peer-to-peer trading platform.

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