Escape from Custody: Binance Executive Detained in Nigeria Amid Crypto Crackdown

A leader from the cryptocurrency exchange Binance has reportedly absconded from custody in Nigeria, where authorities have initiated a criminal investigation into allegations of the platform’s involvement in money laundering. According to officials on Monday, Nadeem Anjarwalla, Binance’s Africa regional manager, left Nigeria using a smuggled passport. Nigeria’s National Security Adviser office issued a statement urging the public to provide any information aiding law enforcement in his apprehension.

Nigeria boasts Africa’s largest cryptocurrency economy by trade volume, with many citizens turning to crypto as a hedge against escalating inflation and the devaluation of the local currency. Anjarwalla, who holds citizenship in both Britain and Kenya, had been detained in Nigeria alongside a colleague since February 26, following governmental actions against the crypto platform. His colleague, Tigran Gambaryan, an American citizen, remains in custody.

Binance ceased trading with the Nigerian naira currency on its platform in early March after facing accusations of facilitating money laundering and terrorism financing from authorities, though no public evidence was presented to support these claims. The circumstances of Anjarwalla’s escape from custody remain unclear. Reports suggest he fled from a guest house in the capital city, Abuja, while guards escorted him to a nearby mosque for prayers.

In response to the escape, officials have detained the personnel responsible for Anjarwalla’s custody and launched a thorough investigation. The detained Binance executives are under a court order and are scheduled to appear in court on April 4.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s tax agency has filed a four-count charge of tax evasion against Binance, alleging the exchange’s complicity in assisting customers to evade taxes through its platform. The Federal Inland Revenue Service accused Binance of specific violations of tax laws, such as failure to issue invoices for VAT purposes, and hindering tax determination and payment by subscribers.