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Binance: EFCC presents 2 witnesses as money laundering trial stalls

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Thursday, presented two witnesses in the trial of Binance Holdings Ltd and its two executives before a Federal High Court, Abuja.

EFCC’s lawyer, Ekele Iheanacho, informed Justice Emeka Nwite upon resumed trial in the money laundering trial.

The anti-graft agency had preferred five charges against the crypto-currency firm, its top officials; Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla (now at large) as first to third defendants respectively.

They were alleged to have conspired amongst themselves to conceal the origin of the financial proceeds of their alleged unlawful activities in Nigeria including $35,400, 000, among others.

The commission accused them of committing the offence contrary to Section 21 (a) and punishable under Section 18(3) of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022, among others.

However, Anjarwalla escaped from lawful custody on March 22 and fled Nigeria for Kenya, before arraignment.

The defendants were later arraigned on April 8 but pleaded not guilty to the counts.

Gambaryan was ordered to be remanded in Kuje Correctional Centre

Gambaryan, through his lawyer, Mark Mordi, SAN, applied for a bail on April 23, which was opposed by the EFCC, and the ruling fixed for May 17.

Meanwhile, when the matter was called on Thursday, Iheanacho said the matter was scheduled for trial commencement.

“The matter is for commencement of trial and we have two of our witnesses in court today my lord,” Iheanacho told the court.

But Tonye Krukrubo, SAN, counsel for Binance Ltd, objected to Iheanacho’s submission.

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Krukrubo told the court that his client had not been served with the court documents in the matter.

“If we are here for trial, can my learned friend confirm if the first defendant has been served with any process?” he said.

The EFCC lawyer responded that all the defendants, including the first defendant (Binance), had been duly served and that additional proof of evidence was served on the 1st defendant through the 2nd defendant (Gambaryan) in accordance with the law.

But Krukrubo insisted that he had not been served.

He said a suspect facing criminal proceedings should be afforded the opportunity to defence himself, hence, there should be a proof of service of the documents on his client.

Iheanacho, on his part, restated that the company was served through Gambaryan, who is its agent in Nigeria.

He said the proof of service could be confirmed in the court record. However, the proof of service could not be found in the court record when the judge directed the registrar to look through the file.

Justice Nwite then summoned the bailiff to give his own account on the service of the documents.

The bailiff explained that on April 30, he was at Kuje Correction Facility to effect the service of the documents on Binance through Gambaryan but he was not allowed to see him.

He said all efforts made were unsuccessful.

The bailiff told the court that the documents were still in his care.

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Justice Nwite then ordered Iheanacho to serve Krukrubo with the extra copy of the documents in his possession in the open court.

Krukrubo applied for an adjournment to enable him study the documents ahead of the trial commencement.

The judge, who adjourned the matter until May 17 for trial commencement, advised EFCC to be diligent in the trial.

“It behoves on you, as prosecution, to do all within your power in the trial because I am not going to entertain any delay in this trial again,” Justice Nwite said.(NAN)

Taiye Agbaje
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