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Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court in Abuja has denied bail to Binance executive Tigran Gambaryan, who is under arrest in Nigeria. As a result, Gambaryan must remain in custody by the Nigerian authorities.

According to the judge, the decision reflects concerns that the executive could flee if he were released. It is worth noting that another company executive, Nadeem Anjarwalla, also fled Nigerian justice, but was extradited from Kenya, where he was hiding.

Meanwhile, Gambaryan faces five charges related to money laundering, which also fall on Binance. Both deny guilt.

Judge denies executive bail

During the court proceedings, both defendants pleaded not guilty. Mark Mordi, defense lawyer, asked for Gambaryan’s release on bail, emphasizing that the court has the authority to impose strict conditions to ensure Gambaryan’s compliance and presence throughout the trial.

Furthermore, the defense lawyer highlighted that bail is a discretionary right and asked the court to grant it. However, the prosecution, represented by Ekele Iheanacho, vehemently opposed the bail application.

Iheanacho argued that Gambaryan recently attempted to obtain a new passport under suspicious circumstances. Therefore, the risk that he would do like Anjarwalla and run away was high. Gambaryan, in turn, claimed that his old passport was stolen.

On the other hand, Iheanacho stated that releasing Gambaryan on bail and leaving him free in Nigeria did not make sense, as the executive has no significant ties to anyone in the country. The prosecution lawyer argued that the court could not afford to take such a risk.

After considering the arguments, Judge Nwite ruled in favor of the prosecution and denied bail. With that, she ordered that Gambaryan remain in custody pending further court proceedings.

Alternatively, the EFCC recommended that the court return Gambaryan to the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) pending the conclusion of the trial. In response, the defense lawyer argued that his client has no history of absconding, which should be taken into consideration by the court when considering his bail application.

The final verdict

In her decision on the bail application, Judge Nwite admitted that a person accused of a crime punishable by a sentence of three years or more is generally entitled to bail. This is Gambaryan’s case, and it was what motivated the bail request.

However, the judge added that this does not apply to cases in which attempts to conceal evidence are proven. Furthermore, the defense’s interference in the trial also eradicated the possibility of bail.

The judge noted that a Binance employee, through a sworn statement, admitted to traveling to Nigeria to hold meetings with government officials on behalf of the exchange. The judge also highlighted that the EFCC alleged that the Nigerian government discovered, through intelligence, that Binance was involved in activities that violated foreign exchange regulations.

These violations, according to the accusation, ended up affecting the value of the local currency, the naira. Furthermore, Nwite highlighted that Anjarwalla escaped from legal custody, and the same could happen to his colleague.

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