Nigerian Authorities Pursue Binance In Escalating Tax Evasion Debacle

Nigeria’s federal government has intensified its legal battle against cryptocurrency exchange Binance, filing tax evasion charges at the country’s High Court on Mar 25, 2024, local newspaper Punch reported. This move comes amidst the dramatic escape of a top Binance executive from custody, further compounding tensions between the global crypto giant and Nigerian authorities.

The lawsuit, brought by Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), accuses Binance of four counts of tax evasion: failure to pay value-added tax, non-payment of company income tax, neglecting to file tax returns, and complicity in aiding customers to evade taxes through its platform. The charges allege that Binance failed to register with FIRS for tax purposes and violated existing tax regulations within the country.

The lawsuit named Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, two senior Binance executives, as defendants. Their recent detention in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, on Feb 26, had already strained relations between the company and Nigerian authorities, who accused Binance of making illegal transaction profits locally.

“While it is inappropriate for us to comment on the substance of the claims at this time, we can say that we are working collaboratively with Nigerian authorities to bring Nadeem and Tigran back home safely to their families,” a Binance spokesperson told The Block at the time.

Binance Faces Escalating Legal Battle

However, in a dramatic turn of events, Anjarwalla, a British national who also holds a Kenyan passport, escaped from the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on March 22nd. Reports indicate that Anjarwalla fled after being escorted to a nearby mosque for Friday prayers, despite having his British passport confiscated by Nigerian authorities.

We were made aware that Nadeem is no longer in Nigerian custody,” a Binance spokesperson confirmed. “Our primary focus remains on the safety of our employees and we are working collaboratively with Nigerian authorities to quickly resolve this issue.

Nigerian officials are now investigating how Anjarwalla obtained the Kenyan passport used to flee the country and are attempting to determine his intended destination to bring him back into custody.

The escalating legal battle and Anjarwalla’s escape have further strained Binance’s operations in Nigeria. Earlier this month, the exchange cut support for the Nigerian naira amidst mounting conflicts with regulators and requests for information on its top 100 users in the country.

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