Binance: former executive of the crypto exchange in Nigeria arrested

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Yesterday, Nadeem Anjarwalla, a former executive of the crypto exchange Binance in Nigeria who had been wanted for some time, was finally arrested. 

The local newspaper Punch reported that Anjarwalla was arrested by the Kenyan police service.

Nigeria: The story of Anjarwalla, former executive of the crypto exchange Binance

The legal troubles of Nadeem Anjarwalla begin at the end of March, when Nigeria accused Binance of tax evasion.

Anjarwalla was arrested on that occasion, but later managed to escape from custody.

Since then, his whereabouts had been lost, but yesterday he was found and stopped in Kenya, more than 3,000 kilometers away. 

Previously, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) of Nigeria had filed four charges of tax evasion against Binance, including failure to pay value-added tax (VAT) and corporate income tax, omission of income declaration, and complicity in helping customers evade taxes through its platform. 

Furthermore, he had also accused the exchange of not registering with the FIRS itself for tax purposes.

The charges did not only concern the company itself, but also two of its top executives, Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla. Gambaryan was in charge of compliance oversight, while Anjarwalla was Binance’s regional manager for the entire Africa. 

The two were arrested, but Anjarwalla managed to escape during a escorted visit to a mosque. 

The hypothesis was that he had left the country using a different passport than the one confiscated by the Nigerian authorities, and indeed yesterday he was found in Kenya. 

The arrest

The federal government a few days ago tracked down Anjarwalla in Kenya, when his cover was blown after he arrived by plane and managed to temporarily hide.

At that point, they collaborated with local authorities to arrest him and later return him to Nigeria.

Now the International Criminal Police Organization aims to extradite him to Nigeria by the end of this week thanks to the intervention of Interpol.

The extradition is being handled by the Commission for Economic and Financial Crimes of Nigeria, the international criminal police, and the police forces of Nigeria and Kenya. According to the president of the EFCC, Ola Olukoyede, the American FBI and the government of the United Kingdom are also collaborating in the extradition.

Olukoyede also stated that currency speculation and money laundering in excess of $35 million are the basis of the five charges brought by the Commission against Binance Holdings Limited, Tigran Gambaryan, and Nadeem Anjarwalla. 

According to Sahara Reporters, however, the extradition of Anjarwalla could prove to be more challenging, as Anjarwalla has ties to influential people in Kenya. 

Other issues with Binance

After the regulatory issues in the USA, which were resolved with a plea deal, the world’s largest crypto exchange is also facing legal problems in other jurisdictions.

For example, just today it was reported that the SEC of the Philippines has asked Apple and Google to temporarily remove the Binance app from their respective app stores. 

In the official statement, the Philippine SEC states that public access to these websites or apps is considered a threat to the security of investors’ funds, adding that the sale or offer of unregistered securities and the activity of unregistered intermediaries constitutes a violation of the law.

The president of the SEC, Emilio B. Aquino, stated that the removal and blocking of Binance’s apps “will prevent further proliferation of its illegal activities in the country, and protect the investing public from its harmful effects on our economy”. 

The Philippine government agency started targeting Binance in November of last year, specifically analyzing its offering of financial instruments and investment products such as leveraged spot trading, futures contracts, options, cryptocurrency savings accounts, crypto staking services, and initial coin offerings (ICO).

However, Binance has never obtained a license from the SEC to promote investments in the country, nor to create or manage an exchange for the purchase and sale of securities. 

The agency now invites Filipino investors who invest in Binance to immediately close all their positions, or transfer their crypto funds to non-custodial wallets, or to accounts with crypto service providers duly registered in the Philippines.