Just In: Binance executive, Gambaryan, arraigned, pleads not guilty

Binance in court

Binance executive, Gambaryan in court

By Taiye Agbaje

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Monday, arraigned Binance Holdings Limited’s executive, Tigran Gambaryan, on an alleged money laundering charge following the dismissal of his objection by a Federal High Court, Abuja.

Gambaryan was arraigned by the EFCC on a five-count charge before Justice Emeka Nwite.

He was arraigned alongside the company and Nadeem Anjarwalla (now at large).

The anti-graft agency had filed a money laundering charge against Binance, Gambaryan and Anjarwalla as 1st to 3rd defendants respectively.

Anjarwalla was said to have fled Nigeria after his escape from lawful custody on March 22.

In the five-count charge dated and filed on March 28 by the anti-graft commission, the trio is being accused of money laundering to the tune of $35,400,000.

Gambaryan, however, pleaded not guilty to the counts, while a non-guilty plea was also entered for Binance.

The arraignment followed the earlier dismissal of Gambaryan’s preliminary objection by Justice Nwite.

Justice Nwite had on Thursday, fixed today for the ruling on the Binance official’s objection, raised by his lawyer, Mark Mordi, SAN.

Mordi had disagreed with the EFCC’s lawyer, Ekele Iheanacho’s application for the charge to be read to Gambaryan.

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Mordi argued that Binance, listed as 1st defendant, ought to have been duly served, before Gambaryan could take his plea.

The senior lawyer had insisted that since it was a joint charge, the company must be served before his client could be arraigned.

He said that his client was not a representative of the cryptocurrency firm in Nigeria.

But Iheanacho disagreed with Mordi, saying since Gambaryan represented Binance in Nigeria and that it is the law that he can be served on behalf of the firm.

According to him, if the company does not show up, a non-guilty plea can be entered for it in accordance with Section 478 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), 2015.

He added that Gambaryan’s statement attached to the proof of evidence showed that he is an official of Binance in the country

Delivering the ruling on Monday, Justice Nwite agreed with Iheanacho’s submission.

The judge held that from Gambaryan’s affidavit attached to his bail application, the American citizen categorically averred that he was representing Binance in Nigeria.

The judge, consequently, dismissed the preliminary objection and ordered him to enter his plea.

While Justice Nwite adjourned his bail application until April 18, he fixed May 2 for trial.(NAN)(wwww.nannews.ng)

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