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    FG, INTERPOL in talks over Binance chief’s extradition

    The Federal Government and the International Criminal Police Organisation have commenced the process of extraditing a Binance chief, Nadeem Anjarwalla, who escaped from detention on March 22.

    Security agencies had in February arrested Anjarwalla and Tigran Gambaryan, two executives of the crypto-currency firm, Binance Holdings Limited, over alleged money laundering.

    They were detained in ‘a safe house’ in Abuja on the order of the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu.

    Among other charges, the firm and the two executives were arraigned for $35,400,000 money laundering at the Federal High Court, Abuja.

    But on Friday, March 22, Anjarwalla escaped from detention and left the country using a Kenyan passport.

    On Tuesday, top government sources confirmed to The PUNCH that the process of extraditing the fugitive had begun.

    The sources noted that Anjarwalla’s absence would not affect the arraignment of Binance and Tigran and Gambaryan in court on Thursday over a five-count money laundering charge.

    “Mr Anjarwalla’s extradition process has begun. The Federal Government is working as did with INTERPOL to extradite the fugitive to Nigeria. He’s a fugitive that escaped from lawful custody, and his other partner is still in custody and would be arraigned on Thursday alongside their company, Binance,” a source noted.

    Another source revealed, “It is true that the Federal Government has commenced the process of extraditing Binance’ Anjarwalla in order to bring him back to Nigeria to answer to his money laundering case in court, among others. The arraignment of Binance and Gambaryan in court on Thursday will also aide Anjarwalla’s extradition.”

    Meanwhile, a top security source confirmed to our correspondent that the soldiers detailed to monitor Anjarwalla were being grilled by special investigators drawn from the military, Department of State Services, the police, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the National Intelligence Agency.

    “The soldiers detailed to monitor Anjarwalla have been detained as you know, and they’re still being grilled by special investigators drawn from various security and intelligence agencies and services- the military, DSS, NIA, and the police, all hands are on deck as it is a matter of national security.”

    Meanwhile, the EFCC will on Thursday arraign Binance Holdings Limited and two of its senior executives Gambaryan; and Anjarwalla, th fugitive over alleged $35,400,000 money laundering.

    The EFCC had on Thursday, March 28, charged Binance Holdings Limited, Gambaryan, Anjarwalla with $35,400,000 money laundering.

    The EFCC which has now fully taken over the case from the Office of the National Security Adviser, has also detained Gambaryan, and obtained a court warrant to arrest and extradite Anjarwalla.

    Confirming the development to our correspondent on Friday, impeccable sources noted that Anjarwalla would be arraigned in an absentia alongside Binance and Mr Gambaryan who’s now in EFCC custody.

    “The detained Binance executive, Gambaryan is now in custody of the EFCC. The NSA has totally handed over the matter to the EFCC for investigation and prosecution. The commission has charged Binance, Gambaryan and Anjarwalla to court for $35,400,000 money laundering, and they’ll be arraigned in court on Thursday, April 4, 2024.” a source noted.

    Another source revealed that, “The EFCC is now partnering the International Criminal Police Organisation, the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation, the government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the Kenyan government, to effect the arrest and extradition of Mr Anjarwalla, the fugitive who fled from lawful custody in Nigeria.”

    Following the takeover of the investigation into the alleged financial irregularities committed by Binance, the EFCC had filed five-count charges bordering on money laundering against the crypto-currency giant and two of its executives, Anjarwalla and Gambaryan.

    The court documents obtained by our correspondent revealed that the charges were filed on Thursday, March 28, 2024, before the Federal High Court of Nigeria, Abuja division.

    The charges read, “That you, Binance Holdings Limited (“aka Binance”) Tigran Gambaryan, and Nadeem Anjarwalla (now at large), between January, 2023 and January, 2024 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court carried on specialized business of other financial institution without valid licence and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 57(1) and (2) of the Banks and Other Financial, Institutions Act, 2020 and punishable under section 57(5) of the same Act.

    “Count two, that you, Binance Holdings Limited (“aka Binance”) Tigran Gambaryan, and Nadeem Anjarwalla (now at large), between January, 2022 and January, 2024 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court engaged in business of other financial institution (other than insurance, stock broking and pension fund management) without valid licence and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 58(5) of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, 2020.

    “Count three, that you, Binance Holdings Limited (“aka Binance”) between January, 2022 and January, 2024 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court not being an authorized dealer in Nigeria’s Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market used your virtual asset services platform to unlawfully negotiate foreign exchange rates in Nigeria and you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 29(1) (c) of the Foreign Exchange (Monitoring And Miscellaneous Provisions) Act.

    “Count four, that you, Binance Holdings Limited (“aka Binance”) Tigran Gambaryan, and Nadeem Anjarwalla (now at large), and other persons at large between January, 2023 and January, 2024 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court conspired amongst yourselves to conceal the origin of the proceeds of your unlawful activities and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 21 (a) and punishable under section 18(3) of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022.

    “Count five, that you, Binance Holdings Limited (“aka Binance”) Tigran Gambaryan, and Nadeem Anjarwalla between January, 2023 and December, 2023 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court concealed the origin of a cumulative sum of $35,400, 000 (Thirty Five Million, Four Hundred United States Dollars) generated as revenue by Binance in Nigeria knowing that the funds constituted proceeds of unlawful activity and you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 18(3) of the Money Laundering (Prevention and prohibition) Act, 2022.”

    The Federal Government, on Monday last week, contacted the INTERPOL and issued an arrest warrant for the apprehension of Anjarwalla, who escaped from lawful custody.

    The PUNCH reported on March 26, 2024 that the accused used a Kenyan passport to escape, while his colleague was still in custody.

    According to the report, Anjarwalla, escaped from Abuja through a Middle East airliner.

    The office of the NSA had confirmed the escape of Anjarwalla in a statement issued in Abuja on March 26 by the Head of its Strategic Communication, Zakari Mijinyawa, who stated that preliminary investigation showed that the escapee fled Nigeria using a smuggled international passport.

    Anjarwalla escaped from ‘a safe house’ where he and his colleague were detained guarded by heavily armed soldiers.

    Financial Times had on February 28, 2024, reported that two executives of the company were arrested and detained after they flew into the country as a result of a ban on their website.

    On March 12, 2024, the FT reported that the EFCC asked Binance to share data on its 100 top users in Nigeria as well as all transaction history for the past six months.

    According to the report, the request is at the centre of negotiations between Binance and Nigeria.

     

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