Binance & Gambaryan Defense Adjourned Yet Again as Officials Drag Their Feet

Gambaryan’s defense is finally underway, but the slow wheels of justice are taking their toll.

Tigran Gambaryan still sitting in the police questioning room.
Created by Kornelija Poderskytė from DailyCoin
  • The money laundering case against Binance and Tigran Gambaryan has been adjourned again.
  • The case has seen testimony from the prosecution’s second witness.
  • Prison officials continue to ignore court directives at the risk of Gambaryan’s health.

Tigran Gambaryan has been detained for over 120 days in Nigeria. Despite being cleared of tax evasion charges, the Binance executive still has a separate money laundering case to deal with.

After months of procedural hiccups and failed attempts to shake the charges, the defense is finally underway, but the slow wheels of justice are taking their toll.

An Unlicensed Business

The money laundering case brought by Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), against Binance and its chief financial crime officer, Tigran Gambaryan, is sluggishly dragging on. 

Sponsored

Friday, July 5, saw the testimony of the prosecution’s second witness, Olubukola Akinwunmi, head of payments policy and regulation at the Central Bank of Nigeria, called to speak on the nature of Binance’s operations in Nigeria and naira price manipulation claims, as observed by my colleague, DailyCoin reporter Grace Abidemi.

When asked to describe Binance’s services in Nigeria, the CBN official told the court in sworn testimony that Binance had offered unauthorized currency exchange and banking services to Nigerians via its platform.

"They facilitated exchange between one fiat currency to the other, e.g., converting from naira to USD. That type of service requires authorization by the CBN, either as an authorized dealer or as a BDC [Bureau De Change]," he stressed.

The prosecution asked the witness directly if Binance had received a CBN license to offer these services in Nigeria, trying to emphasize the point made in his previous answer. Akinwunmi answered:

Sponsored

"The CBN did not issue any license to Binance."

Prosecutors also pressed Akinwunmi on Binance’s support for Nigerian users through help pages and events, perhaps setting the stage for an argument that the exchange actively solicited Nigerian users without obtaining the relevant licensing.

Justice Emeka Nwite adjourned the case till July 16 following the CBN official’s testimony, but not before the court again addressed the matter of Gambaryan’s health.

The Binance executive’s health has been a cause for concern since he slumped during proceedings on May 23. These concerns are further heightened by the continued reluctance of prison officials to release his test results.

Prison Officials Continue to Ignore Directives

Gambaryan’s lawyers had raised concerns over his health during proceedings in Nigeria’s Federal High Court Abuja on Monday, July 1, pointing out that officials of the Nigerian Correctional Service had yet to provide the results of his medical tests despite multiple requests. These concerns led Justice Emeka Nwite to demand the Binance executive’s test results by Friday, July 5.

During Friday’s hearing, however, it was revealed that officials had yet to release the reports, forcing Gambaryan’s lawyer, Mark Modi, to raise the issue again. Highlighting the Binance executive’s continued ill health, evidenced by coughing fits and a noticeable limp, he urged Justice Emeka Nwite to take a stronger stance on the matter, arguing that he was being “taken for a ride.”

The defense attorney requested that the judge demand the presence of the prison doctor, Dr Abraham Ehigozie, in court at the subsequent trial date, July 16, should officials fail to provide the test results before then.

Meanwhile, while officials continue to dally with the medical results, Gambaryan’s condition appears to be worsening. The Binance executive who is reportedly suffering from malaria and double pneumonia is now complaining about pressure in his back, according to his lawyers in proceedings today. According to them, Gambaryan requires an MRI test, which officials have also refused to permit.

Today’s proceedings follow testimony from an SEC official called primarily to speak on the legal status of Binance’s operations in Nigeria.

Ongoing Contentions

At the beginning of proceedings in May 2024, SEC Director Abdulkadir Babo Abbas told the court that Binance operated without a license in Nigeria, adding that its operations helped facilitate naira price manipulation.

During cross-examination this week, however, the defense probed Abbas on:

  • The lack of a mention of virtual assets in Nigerian securities law before Gambaryan’s arrest
  • Binance’s efforts to get clarity two years ago
  • The investigative evidence backing his naira manipulation claims
  • And his understanding of Gambaryan’s role at Binance.

With this line of questioning, the defense hoped to establish the following:

  • Nigeria’s securities laws are unclear about the classification of crypto assets, and Binance’s efforts to gain clarity and become compliant have been rebuffed
  • Abbas had no factual basis for his claims about how Binance’s operations influenced the value of the naira
  • And that Gambaryan was simply a cybercrime investigator called when there was suspicion that a crime had been committed, lacking any power to influence the company’s operations and, as such, be held liable for its alleged actions in Nigeria.

On the Flipside 

  • Binance is now the sole defendant in the tax evasion case following the company’s appointment of an agent in the country.
  • The state of Gambaryan’s health remains unclear.

Why This Matters

Tigran Gambaryan has spent over 126 days in Nigerian detention for crimes allegedly committed by his employers. Recent court appearances suggest that unsavory prison conditions are taking a significant toll on the Binance man’s health.

Read these for more on the Gambaryan story:
Tigran Gambaryan Is Still Detained After 100+ Days: What’s Going On?
Negligence! Tigran Gambaryan’s Health Is Being Endangered by Officials

This article is for information purposes only and should not be considered trading or investment advice. Nothing herein shall be construed as financial, legal, or tax advice. Trading forex, cryptocurrencies, and CFDs pose a considerable risk of loss.

Author
Okoya David

David Okoya is a crypto news reporter at DailyCoin based in Nigeria. He covers various topics related to the cryptocurrency industry, including exchanges, regulations, and price movements, and strives to bring fresh angles to breaking news. With experience as a freelance crypto news writer, David upholds the highest journalistic standards, telling complete stories and answering lingering questions whenever possible.