Federal High Court Discharges Foreign Nationals in FIRS vs Binance Tax Evasion Case Amid Growing Crypto Scrutiny in Nigeria

According to recent reports, the Federal High Court has discharged Tigran Gambaryan, a 39-year-old American, and Nadeem Anjarwalla from the tax evasion case involving the cryptocurrency exchange giant, Binance. The decision came on Friday following amended charges filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), which now solely implicates Binance Holdings Ltd.

The amendment followed Binance’s notification of appointing Ayodele Omotilewa as its Nigerian representative, a move crucial to the fresh proceedings. The FIRS, in its amended lawsuit dated May 17, 2024, alleges that Binance failed to remit both Value Added Tax (VAT) and Company Income Tax (CIT) as required by Nigerian tax laws.

Idris Mohammed, the Minister of Information, had earlier highlighted that Binance recorded a substantial turnover exceeding $20 billion in Nigeria in 2023 alone, underscoring the scale of the allegations.

During the recent court session, counsel for Binance, Tonye Krukrubo SAN, informed Justice Emeka Nwite that his client had duly appointed its Nigerian representative, complying with regulatory requirements. This move was confirmed by FIRS’ counsel, Moses Idehu, who sought the court’s approval to substitute all previous charges with the updated ones filed on June 13, 2024.

In the amended charge, Binance stands accused of facilitating cryptocurrency transactions in Nigeria without deducting and remitting the requisite VAT, among other taxes. The FIRS specifically pointed out that Binance’s activities in Nigeria allegedly aided subscribers on its platform in evading tax obligations, a violation under Nigerian tax laws.

Consequently, Justice Emeka Nwite adjourned the case to June 14 for the arraignment of Binance Holdings Ltd and Gambaryan. The court directed that Binance’s Nigerian representative should appear and enter a plea on behalf of the corporation.

The developments mark a pivotal moment in the ongoing legal saga between Nigerian authorities and Binance, amidst growing scrutiny globally over cryptocurrency taxation and regulatory compliance.

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