Nigeria charges Binance with tax evasion after Kenyan executive flees custody

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Nigeria has filed tax evasion charges against cryptocurrency platform Binance and is seeking an international arrest warrant for the company’s regional manager for Africa who fled custody last week, officials said on Monday.

The manager Nadeem Anjarwalla, a British-Kenyan, was detained in connection with an ongoing criminal investigation into Binance’s activities in Nigeria.

Nigeria’s security adviser’s office said it is working with Interpol after Anjarwalla escaped on Friday.

Binance said on Monday it was aware that Anjarwalla was no longer in Nigerian custody and was working with authorities to resolve the issue.

Anjarwalla and Tigran Gambaryan, a US citizen and Binance’s head of financial crime compliance flew to Nigeria following the country’s decision to ban several cryptocurrency trading websites and were detained on arrival on February 26.

Anjarwalla and Gambaryan could not be contacted.

A person representing them, who asked not to be named, said the two officials were being held unlawfully since their detention order expired on March 12, adding that Anjarwalla left Nigeria by lawful means.

“Nadeem left unlawful custody on Saturday 23, he was not being tried by Nigerian courts and has not been informed of any charges against him,” the person said.

Nigerian authorities had asked a court in Abuja to extend the detention of the two Binance executives after the warrant under which they were initially detained lapsed, people familiar with the matter said, asking not to be named because they were not authorised to speak publicly.

On Monday, Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) filed a case in Abuja accusing Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, of four counts of tax evasion.

The FIRS charges include non-payment of value-added tax (VAT), company income tax, failure to file tax returns, and complicity in helping customers to evade taxes through its platform.

Binance had no immediate comment on the tax charges.

Binance this month said it would stop all transactions and trading in Nigeria’s local currency after March 8 following a country-wide crackdown on crypto exchanges that authorities have blamed for fuelling demand for U.S. dollars on the black market.

The company said it would stop supporting withdrawals and any remaining balances in Nigerian naira would be automatically converted into Tether – a stablecoin whose value is pegged to the US dollar.

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