Nigerian court adjourns Binance and executives' tax evasion trial to May 17

FILE PHOTO: Tigran Gambaryan, an executive of Binance, the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange, sits as he waits to face prosecution for tax evasion and money laundering at the federal high court in Abuja, Nigeria April 4, 2024. REUTERS/ Abraham Achirga/File Photo

ABUJA (Reuters) - A Nigerian court on Friday adjourned a tax evasion trial against cryptocurrency exchange Binance and two of its executives to May 17 after the matter was stalled because the exchange has not been formally served with the charges.

Binance and its executives Tigran Gambaryan, a U.S. citizen and head of financial crime compliance, and Nadeem Anjarwalla, a British-Kenyan who is a regional manager for Africa, face four counts of tax evasion.

The charges include failure to register with Nigeria's Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) for tax remittance purposes.

Gambaryan appeared in court in Abuja on Friday but did not take a plea. Anjarwalla fled the country last month.

Binance has not been served the tax evasion charges by FIRS, whose lawyer argued that Gambaryan should face the charges on the exchange's behalf.

Gambaryan's lawyer Chukwuka Ikuazom objected, arguing that since Binance and its executives were jointly charged, he could not take a plea until the exchange, the first defendant in the case, had been served, according to Nigerian law.

Judge Emeka Nwite adjourned to May 17 when he will give a ruling.

In addition to the tax evasion trial, Binance and the executives have also been charged with laundering more than $35 million by Nigeria's anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), in a trial that will resume on May 2.

Binance, which was not represented in court and had no immediate comment, said on Thursday that it is working closely with Nigeria authorities following the detention of Gambaryan.

(Editing by Elisha Bala-Gbogbo)

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