Nigeria Sues Cryptocurrency Firm Binance for Tax Evasion  

abuja, nigeria — Nigerian authorities on Monday slapped four counts of tax evasion on cryptocurrency exchange company Binance and said it was seeking collaboration with Interpol to arrest an official of the company who fled custody last week.

The charges stemmed from an investigation of the company’s Nigerian office for alleged attempts to manipulate Nigeria’s currency.

Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Services said Monday that Binance had flouted four tax laws by failing to pay company income tax, failing to pay value added tax, not complying with tax return filing obligations and facilitating tax evasion for Binance users.

The government also said Binance had failed to register for tax purposes with authorities.

Binance in the past has denied any wrongdoing in Nigeria. The company did not respond to VOA’s request for comment.

Nigerian authorities on February 26 detained two of the company’s executives — Tigran Gambaryan, a U.S. citizen, and Nadeem Anjawalla, a British Kenyan.

Eze Onyekpere, founder of the Center for Social Justice, said the arrests and charges were largely expected.

“It shouldn’t be surprising that they may have violated Nigerian laws,” Onyekpere said. “Nigeria is not the only country that has been charging the executives with violating their laws. The only reasonable thing to do is to bring them before the court and be given the opportunity to defend themselves. Due process and fair hearing must be followed.”

Meanwhile, on Monday, the office of the national security adviser said Anjawalla had escaped detention. The security adviser said authorities were working with international police to obtain a warrant for his arrest.

Binance said it was aware one of its officials was no longer in custody.

Nigerian authorities introduced bold reforms last year, including currency controls, in a bid to boost the economy.

But months after their implementation, the naira lost about 70 percent of its value. Authorities say companies like Binance played a role by trying to manipulate the currency.

But public finance expert Isaac Botti said it couldn’t have happened if the government hadn’t been so negligent toward firms like Binance that exploited the system to their advantage.

“Our system has been designed to be porous, and this is the advantage these guys take,” Botti said. “They understand the system. In a sane clime, you do not create room for this kind of porosity in your system.”

Earlier this month, Binance ended all transactions and trading in Nigeria’s local currency and said any remaining balances would be automatically converted into tether — a cryptocurrency stablecoin pegged to the U.S. dollar.

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