Nigeria Charges Binance With Tax Evasion After Detained Exec Escapes: Reports

One of two senior Binance executives in government custody has escaped, local media reported over the weekend.

AccessTimeIconMar 25, 2024 at 8:59 a.m. UTC
Updated Mar 25, 2024 at 6:16 p.m. UTC
  • Nigeria's tax authority charged Binance with tax evasion, local news outlets reported Monday.
  • The charges come after a tense few weeks during which two senior executives of the crypto exchange were detained by authorities.
  • Local media reported that one of the two executives escaped and may have left the country.

Binance, the world's largest crypto exchange, was charged with tax evasion by Nigerian authorities as a weekslong standoff between the two parties intensified, local media outlets reported Monday, citing a statement from the country's tax watchdog.

The charges, which also name two Binance executives detained by the government, were announced by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja, one outlet reported. The exchange is being charged with four counts of tax evasion, including "non-payment of Value-Added Tax (VAT), Company Income Tax, failure to tax returns, and complicity in aiding customers to evade taxes through its platform."

News of the charges follows weeks of scrutiny and criticism of the crypto exchange by the Nigerian government, which went so far as to invite and then detain two Binance executives. The government says the platform processed billions of dollars worth of suspected criminal funds and set an exchange rate for the local currency, the naira.

Meanwhile, one of the two executives held by the government, Nadeem Anjarwalla, has escaped, presidential spokesman Bayo Onanuga told Bloomberg. The news service was also told by Binance that the company was made aware Anjarwalla is no longer in Nigerian custody by authorities. The country is working with Interpol to secure an international arrest warrant for Anjarwalla, who is the company's regional manager for Africa, Reuters reported, citing the president's adviser on national security.

The case is FHC/ABJ/CR/115/2024.

CoinDesk has contacted Binance for comment.

UPDATE (March 25, 9:16 UTC): Adds that the two detained executives were also named in the charges.

UPDATE (March 25, 10:10 UTC): Adds presidential spokesperson comment to Bloomberg.

UPDATE (March 25, 12:18 UTC): Adds Interpol, arrest warrant in fourth paragraph.

Edited by Sheldon Reback.


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Sandali Handagama

Sandali Handagama is CoinDesk's deputy managing editor for policy and regulations, EMEA. She does not own any crypto.