Court fixes May 17 to decide bail request by Binance Executive


Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court in Abuja has fixed May 17 to rule on the bail application filed by a Binance executive, Tigran Gambaryan.

Justice Nwite fixed the date on Tuesday after taking arguments from parties for and against the bail of Gambaryan, who is the second defendant in the charge filed by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) against Binance Holdings Limited, a cryptocurrency firm and its executive over alleged money laundering to the tune of $35,400,000.

Arguing the bail application on behalf of his client, Mark Mordi (SAN) said, the court has the inherent jurisdiction to admit the defendant to bail, more so that, the offences, for which he was charged are bailable offences.

Besides, he said, the defendant is presumed innocent until proven otherwise by the court and added that his client is anxious to prove his innocence before the court.

According to Mordi, Gambaryan is not a flight risk and that his international passport has been seized by the EFCC adding that, “The only reason the EFCC is holding the defendant is that, they want to use him as a leverage in making his employer to provide them with information.”

While accusing the anti-graft agency of not acting according to law, Mordi prayed the court to admit the defendant to bail adding that the court has the power to put in place necessary safeguards to ensure that the defendant attends his trial.

Opposing the application for the bail of the Binance executive, EFCC lawyer, Ekele Iheanacho, in a 14-paragraph affidavit, prayed the court to refuse the bail application of the defendant.

Iheanacho told the court that the second defendant is both an American and Armenian citizen and had attempted processing a new passport on the ground that his initial passport was missing.

He said if EFCC had not intercepted the second defendant, he would have perfected the act, pointing out also that the second defendant had no attachment to any community in Nigeria to ensure that he would be available for his trial if granted bail.

Replying on the point of law, Mordi prayed the court to discountenance the submission of the prosecution to the effect that the defendant is an Armenian citizen by birth, as there is nothing before the court to buttress that submission.

He said, the second defendant, who had been in custody for 50 days, is eager to go for trial to prove his innocence.

After hearing the submissions of counsel, Justice Nwite adjourned till May 17, 2024, for ruling.

Gambaryan, who took the plea on behalf of the company as its representative, pleaded not guilty to the money laundering allegation preferred against him by the EFCC.

The anti-graft agency had charged Binance Holdings Limited, a cryptocurrency firm, and Tigran Gambaryan, the company’s head of financial crime compliance, with a five-count charge bordering on money laundering.

In the charge filed on March 28 by the anti-graft agency, the company executives are being accused of money laundering to the tune of $35,400,000.

EFCC alleged in one of the counts that, the defendants, between January 2023 and January 2024 in Abuja, carried out a specialised business of other financial institution without a valid licence.

The offence is said to be contrary to Section 57(1) and (2) of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act, 2020 and punishable under Section 57(5) of the same Act

Post a Comment