Detained Binance executive Tigran Gambaryan pleaded not guilty to four counts of money laundering charges in Nigeria, according to local reports.

After being arrested in Nigeria in late February, Gambaryan proclaimed his innocence in a courtroom on April 8, the local news agency Peoples Gazette reported.

At the hearing, Gambaryan reiterated that he should not be held responsible for Binance’s activities in Nigeria because he does not have decision-making authority in the company’s business operations.

Gambaryan’s lawyer, Chukwuka Ikuazom, also contested that his client, even though served with charges of his escaped colleague, could not enter a plea on his behalf.

Judge Emeka Nwite rejected Gambaryan’s defense argument and ruled that he acted as Binance’s representative in past trips to Nigeria, citing local laws

“A person who has no physical presence in Nigeria but has a physical agent in Nigeria can be duly served through that agent,” the Judge reportedly stated.

Tigran Gambaryan sits as he waits to face prosecution for tax evasion and money laundering at the federal high court in Abuja, Nigeria April 4, 2024. Source: Technext24

As previously reported, Gambaryan’s case was adjourned until April 19 last week. As per the new reports, Gambaryan’s hearing on bail consideration is now adjourned until April 18. Some publications also reported that hearings on the substantive charge will begin on May 2.

Related: Philippines SEC ‘can’t endorse’ ways to retrieve funds after Binance ban

According to the Peoples Gazette, judge Nwite ordered the remand of Gambaryan at Kuje prison in Abuja until the case is finished.

Gambaryan’s attorney reportedly asked the court to return the defendant to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). However, counsel for the EFCC disputed the suggestion, saying that persons accused of similar offenses as Gambaryan are always sent to the Kuje facility pending the court’s decision.

While Gambaryan remains in custody, Nadeem Anjarwalla, Binance’s Africa Regional Manager, managed to escape and flee Nigeria in March.

Escaped Binance’s Africa regional manager Nadeem Anjarwalla. Source: The Source Magazine

The EFCC’s charges against Gambaryan and Anjarwalla underscore a broader investigation into Binance’s activities in Nigeria. According to local authorities, Binance allegedly manipulated and crashed the local fiat currency, the Nigerian naira. Additionally, both Gambaryan and Anjarwalla are accused of tax fraud.

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