binance court case

In a recent legal showdown, a Nigerian court dismissed a human rights violation lawsuit filed by Nadeem Anjarwalla, a top Binance executive, against Nigerian law enforcement agencies. The case’s dismissal because of Anjarwalla’s lack of legal representation underscores the growing tension between cryptocurrency firms and regulatory authorities in Nigeria.

binance court case

What Led to the Human Rights lawsuit?

In case you missed the previous gist of the court case of the century, here’s a brief backstory.
In late February 2023, Nadeem Anjarwalla, Binance’s regional head for Africa, along with Tigran Gambaryan, the head of Financial Crime Compliance at Binance, was detained by Nigerian authorities without charges. This led to accusations that their detention violated sections 35(1) and 35(4) of the Nigerian Constitution. Anjarwalla and Gambaryan’s legal teams subsequently filed lawsuits alleging illegal arrest and the seizure of their travel documents by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Initially, no formal charges were brought against the Binance executives. However, the Nigerian government later charged them and Binance with tax evasion and money laundering. These charges were part of broader efforts by Nigerian authorities to regulate cryptocurrency operations more strictly within the country. Notably, the tax evasion charges were dropped after Binance agreed to appoint a local representative to appear in court on its behalf.

After filing the lawsuit, Anjarwalla, who holds dual Kenyan and British citizenship, escaped detention and fled Nigeria using a concealed passport. Following his escape, his legal representative, Tonye Krukrubo, withdrew from the case, leaving Anjarwalla without legal counsel.

Why was Binance’s Lawsuit dismissed?

On June 5, 2024, Judge Inyang Ekwo of the Abuja court dismissed Anjarwalla’s human rights violation lawsuit, citing the absence of legal representation as a critical factor in his decision. This ruling came amid increasing scrutiny and regulatory pressure on cryptocurrency operations in Nigeria. The court has scheduled a hearing for a similar lawsuit filed by Gambaryan for July 9, 2024.

The dismissal of Anjarwalla’s case highlights the strained relations between cryptocurrency firms and Nigerian regulatory bodies. Nigerian financial institutions take a hardline stance against cryptocurrency exchanges, accusing Binance of currency manipulation and illicit financial activities. This confrontational approach is part of broader regulatory efforts to exert control over digital financial transactions within Nigeria’s borders.

What is Binance’s reaction to this?

The ongoing legal challenges facing Binance and its executives underscore the precarious environment for cryptocurrency exchanges operating in Nigeria. With FG seeking INTERPOL’s assistance to secure Anjarwalla’s return while detaining Gambaryan, crypto operations in the region appear difficult. Binance CEO Richard Teng publicly criticizes the government’s actions, suggesting that Gambaryan’s detention is a pressure tactic to force compliance from the exchange.

The bigger picture

Nadeem Anjarwalla’s lawsuit dismissal significantly develops the broader conflict between cryptocurrency firms and regulatory bodies. It signals Nigeria’s willingness to adopt stringent measures to regulate the crypto sector. As the legal battles continue, Nigerian cryptocurrency exchanges must remain vigilant and adaptable to navigate complex regulatory landscapes in Nigeria.

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