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Nigeria Slams Binance With Tax Evasion Charges as Detained Exec Escapes: Report

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The Nigerian government has slammed the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, with four counts of tax evasion charges as the saga between the entities deepens.

According to a report from local media Premium Times, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) filed the charges at a Federal High Court in the nation’s capital, Abuja, on March 22, the same day Nadeem Anjarwalla, one of the Binance executives detained since February, escaped from the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Binance Faces Tax Evasion Charges

The FIRS mentioned Anjarwalla and Tigran Gambaryan as the second and third defendants in the lawsuit against Binance. Gambaryan is the other executive still in custody following Anjarwalla’s escape. The lawsuit accused the firm of failing to deduct value-added taxes (VATs) from crypto trades on its platform and aiding and abetting users to neglect their taxes.

In addition, the crypto exchange allegedly failed to register with the FIRS to pay all relevant taxes incurred from offering its services. The platform also refrained from issuing VAT tax invoices to users to ensure appropriate tax payments.

The accusations against Binance come as the Nigerian government scrutinizes the exchange for money laundering and terrorist financing activities. Last week, the Federal High Court ordered the crypto trading firm to release comprehensive data of all local users trading on its platform and information on its transaction records for the past six months.

Recall that the genesis of this issue was the massive devaluation of the naira against other currencies in February. Nigeria believes Binance played a huge role in the forex crisis, as its platform was an avenue for market manipulation and currency speculation.

Binance Exec Escapes From EFCC Custody

The EFCC was caught unawares by Anjarwalla’s escape, as his travel documents were seized and are still in the custody of Nigerian authorities.

People familiar with the matter said the Binance executive found his way out of the country after security guards escorted him out of the guest house, where he was detained, to a nearby mosque for prayers amid the ongoing Ramadan fast. He is believed to have flown out of Abuja using a Middle East airliner with a Kenyan passport. Authorities found that he has Kenyan citizenship.

With investigations ongoing to discover Anjarwalla’s destination, the court has extended the detention of the Binance officials for another two weeks, after the first 14 days following their apprehension on February 26.

Meanwhile, the Philippines Securities and Exchange Commission just announced that it would proceed with blocking Binance’s website as it poses a threat to the security of local investors.

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