Alleged money laundering: Court sends Binance executive Gambaryan to Abuja prison

– Hearing of bail application postponed for 11 days

AFederal High Court in Abuja has ordered that a top official of Binance Holdings Limited, Tigran Gambaryan, be remanded in Kuje prison in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

Justice Emeka Nwite gave the order yesterday after Gambaryan was arraigned and he pleaded not guilty to the five-count money laundering charge filed against him and two others.

Also named as defendants in the charge filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) are Binance Limited and another official of the firm, Nadeem Anjarwalla (said to be on the run).

A plea of not guilty was also entered on behalf of Binance Limited.

The prosecuting lawyer, Ekele Iheanacho, applied that the defendant be remanded in prison custody pending the commencement of trial.

Lawyer to Gambaryan, Mark Mordi (SAN), informed the court about a pending bail application filed for his client.

Mordi prayed the court to hear the bail application or remand Gambaryan in the custody of the EFCC pending the determination of the bail application.

Ruling, Justice Nwite ordered that Gambaryan be held in prison until April 18 when his bail application would be heard.

The judge fixed May 2 for the commencement of trial.

In an earlier ruling, the judge had overruled Mordi on the objection he raised against Gambaryan’s arraignment.

Last Thursday, Mordi queried the propriety of arraigning his client when the first defendant, Binance, had not been properly served with the charge.

The lawyer argued that his client did not qualify as an agent of Binance in Nigeria who could accept service of the charge on behalf of the company.

But Iheanacho faulted Mordi, arguing that the prosecution had done the needful under the law by serving Binance through the second defendant (Gambaryan) who is the only known physical representative of the firm in Nigeria.

He added: “Service on the first defendant, which the second defendant refused to accept, is a proper service on the first defendant.”

In his ruling yesterday, Justice Nwite held, among others, that the objection raised on behalf of Gambaryan was without merit.

The judge averred that from Gambaryan’s affidavit attached to his bail application, he stated that he was representing Binance in Nigeria.

Justice Nwite held that by the provision of Section 478 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), the prosecution could serve Binance, a corporate organisation, through the second defendant who qualifies as Binance agent within jurisdiction.

The judge also held that all the prosecution needed to do was establish that the person being served was an agent of Binance.

He averred that part of the deposition in an affidavit filed by the second defendant claimed, among others, that Gambaryan and Anjarwalla “visited Nigeria for the purpose of attending a meeting with Nigerian government officials on behalf of Binance”.

The judge then queried: “Does the second defendant qualify as an agent of Binance? From the above statement, the second defendant is the duly appointed representative of Binance.

“The second defendant is bound to receive summons on behalf of Binance.

“The service on the second defendant on behalf of the first defendant is a proper service. The court should proceed with the arraignment of the defendants.”

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