EFCC insists releasing Binance executive from custody poses risk

 April 24, 2024

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has expressed concern over granting bail to a foreign national, citing the escape of his co-defendant, Nadeem Anjarwalla, who fled from the custody of the National Security Adviser to Kenya.

The EFCC revealed this stance during a hearing before Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court Abuja, where they opposed the bail application of Tigran Gambaryan, an executive of Binance Holdings Limited.

The prosecuting counsel for the EFCC, Emeka Iheanacho informed the court about an alleged scheme by Gambaryan to obtain a new passport to facilitate his escape from Nigeria after his original passport was seized by the EFCC.

Gambaryan, along with Anjarwalla and Binance Holdings Limited, is facing money laundering charges, with the EFCC accusing them of concealing the source of $35,400,000 generated as revenue by Binance in Nigeria, knowing that the funds were proceeds of unlawful activity.

While opposing Gambaryan’s bail application on Tuesday, the EFCC prosecutor said, “There was an attempt by this defendant to procure another travelling document even when he was aware that his passport was in the custody of the state. He pretended as if the said passport was stolen.”

Iheanacho informed the court that during the same period when Anjarwalla fled custody, Gambaryan also allegedly attempted to escape and leave the country but was apprehended by EFCC operatives.

“This court will be taking a grave risk to grant the defendant bail. This is also considering the fact that he has no attachment to any community in Nigeria.

“The experience we have had with the man who escaped to Kenya while his United Kingdom passport is in Nigeria will certainly repeat itself if this defendant is granted bail.

“The 1st defendant (Binance) is operating virtually. The only thing we have to hold on to is this defendant. So, we pray My Lord to refuse bail to the defendant.”

Iheanacho said with the intelligence information at the EFCC’s disposal it was not safe to release the foreigner on bail.

“Because of the information we received, we ask that the defendant be kept in the EFCC custody so that he doesn’t escape. We will ensure that he is properly taken care of.

“Private inconvenience is preferable to public disgrace. My Lord, we urge this honourable court to refuse the bail request of the defendant and instead remand him in our detention facility,” he said

Earlier, during Gambaryan’s bail application, his lawyer, Mark Mordi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, characterized his client’s continued detention as “purely a state-sanctioned hostage-taking,” suggesting that Gambaryan was being held by the EFCC as leverage to obtain information from his employer.

Mordi argued that there was no evidence indicating that his client posed a flight risk.

“He can’t go anywhere. They (EFCC) have his passport. Already, being here, unable to go meet his family, is enough torture.

“The proof of service does not contain one document that incriminates my client. I dare him (the prosecutor) to bring it out for us to see,” he said.

Mordi contended that the assertion that his client was planning to flee the country was unfounded and relied on hearsay and inadmissible evidence.

“The prosecution has not presented any credible evidence to establish why the defendant should not be granted bail,” the defence counsel insisted.

Mordi requested the court to grant bail to the defendant, suggesting conditions that would guarantee his appearance at trial.

Following the arguments from both sides, Justice Nwite adjourned the case until May 17 for a ruling.


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