The EFCC’s plan to bring two witnesses to trial against Binance has been delayed

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In the money laundering case against Binance and one of its top executives, the EFCC was unable to move forward with Thursday’s intention to commence trial with two witnesses.

At Thursday’s trial in the Federal High Court, Abuja, two witnesses were produced by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) against Binance Holdings Ltd and its two executives.

EFCC attorney Ekele Iheanacho notified trial judge Emeka Nwite of his intention to present two witnesses upon the commencement of the court session.

The crypto-currency corporation, its top officials Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla (reported to be at large), and the anti-graft agency had proposed five counts of money laundering against them, according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

They were said to have plotted amongst themselves to hide where the money from their nefarious dealings in Nigeria came from, totaling $35.4 million and more.

The commission levied several accusations against them, including that they had broken the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022’s Section 18(3) and Section 21 (a).

It was reported on 22 March that one of the defendants, Mr. Anjarwalla, escaped from lawful custody and fled Nigeria for Kenya before arraignment could commence.

On April 18th, the remaining defendants were arraigned. Their pleas were of not guilty.

The judge remanded Mr. Gambaryan to Kuje Correctional Centre.

Mark Mordi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and the defendant’s lawyer, sought bail on April 23; however, the EFCC rejected the move.

The bail application was scheduled to be decided upon by the judge on May 17th.

Debate surrounding the trial

At Thursday’s call of the matter, Mr. Iheanacho announced the trial was to begin.

“We have two of our witnesses in court today, my lord, and the matter is for commencement of trial,” Mr. Iheanacho said the court.

However, Binance Ltd.’s attorney Tonye Krukrubo raised an objection to Mr. Iheanacho’s argument.

According to Mr. Krukrubo, his client was not served with the relevant court paperwork.

However, the EFCC lawyer replied that all the defendants, including the first defendant (Binance), had been properly served. He also said that, in compliance with the law, the first defendant was served with further proof of evidence through the second defendant (Gambaryan).

However, Mr. Krukrubo maintained that no one had served him.

It is important to provide evidence of served on his client because he believes a suspect facing criminal proceedings should have a chance to defend himself.

Regarding the company’s service, Mr. Iheanacho reiterated that it was through Mr. Gambaryan, its agent in Nigeria.

He assured us that the court record would confirm the proof of serving.

When the judge ordered the registrar to review the file, however, the evidence of service was not there.

Judge Nwite then called upon the bailiff to provide his own statement regarding the service of the papers.

According to the bailiff, he attempted to serve Binance via Mr. Gambaryan at Kuje Correction Facility on April 30th, but was denied access.

According to him, everything that was tried failed.

The court was informed by the bailiff that he was still in possession of the documents.

Then, in front of the entire court, Mr. Nwite gave Mr. Iheanacho the order to serve Mr. Krukrubo the additional copy of the documents that he had.

In order to have time to review the paperwork before the trial begins, Mr. Krukrubo requested a postponement.

The judge urged the EFCC to show great diligence during the trial and postponed the matter until May 17th.

Mr. Nwite warned the prosecution, saying, “I am not going to entertain any delay in this trial again.” He urged the prosecution to do all in their power during the trial.

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