Binance executive detained in Nigeria in crypto case escapes custody

The Binance executive was detained when he arrived in Nigeria following the crackdown on the company.

An executive of cryptocurrency exchange Binance has escaped custody in Nigeria, where a criminal investigation has been launched against the platform accused of being used for money laundering, according to authorities.

Nadeem Anjarwalla, the regional manager for Binance in Africa, “fled Nigeria using a smuggled passport”, the office of Nigeria’s National Security Adviser said in a statement on Monday.

Nigeria is Africa’s largest crypto economy in terms of trade volume, with many citizens using crypto as the country experiences surging inflation and a declining local currency.

“The personnel responsible for the custody of the suspect have been arrested, and a thorough investigation is ongoing to unravel the circumstances that led to his escape from lawful detention,” Zakari Mijinyawa, spokesman for the office of Nigeria’s National Security Adviser, said in a statement.

The Abuja-based Premium Times newspaper, which broke the news of Anjarwalla’s escape, reported that he fled from a guest house in the capital city after guards allowed him entry to a nearby mosque for prayers.

The Binance executive, who holds both British and Kenyan citizenship, was detained along with another colleague on February 26 when they arrived in Nigeria following the crackdown on the company.

Tigran Gambaryan, Anjwaralla’s colleague who is a US citizen, remains in custody.

The Binance executives were due to appear in court on April 4.

Binance ended trading with the Nigerian naira currency on its platform in early March after authorities accused it of being used for money laundering and “terrorism” financing.

Authorities have not provided evidence for the accusations publicly.

Nigeria’s tax agency, meanwhile, filed a four-count charge on tax evasion against the crypto exchange, accusing it also of “complicity in aiding customers to evade taxes through its platform”.

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