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Binance Executive Reportedly Breaks Out of House Arrest

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Bye!

A detained Binance executive has reportedly broken out of custody in Nigeria.

Per Forbes, the escaped executive, British-Kenyan citizen Nadeem Anjarwalla, was arrested by Nigerian authorities alongside US citizen and fellow Binancer Tigran Gambaryan in February. According to CNBC, reports that Anjarwalla had escaped custody — the pair were sequestered at a guest house in the Nigerian capital Abuja — started swirling on Friday, and the rumor was confirmed on Monday when the Nigerian government officially filed tax evasion charges against the embattled cryptocurrency exchange.

“We were made aware that Nadeem is no longer in Nigerian custody,” a Binance spokesperson told CNBC. “Our primary focus remains on the safety of our employees and we are working collaboratively with Nigerian authorities to quickly resolve this issue.”

The country’s national security advisor told Reuters that Nigeria is working with Interpol to put out an international arrest warrant for the executive, who’s only the latest crypto executive to go on the lam.

Bad Hand

Anjarwalla and Gambaryan’s detainment in Nigeria has been fraught from the beginning. According to CNBC, the duo’s February arrest was made upon their arrival to Nigeria; their passports were immediately taken, and until Monday, no charges had been brought. Their detainment period was originally set to end on March 12, but Nigerian officials — still with no declared charges — extended their release deadline.

Binance has a massive footprint in Nigeria, a reality that’s closely tied to the plummeting value of the naira, Nigeria’s national currency. As CNBC explains, many Nigerians have put money into cryptocurrencies as a way to shield their savings from skyrocketing inflation and value decreases, which the Nigerian government argues has further contributed to the naira’s dwindling value. (Though it could be argued that Binance preyed on Nigeria’s currency crisis, the country’s naira issues run much deeper than crypto.)

The country’s government has also alleged that Binance and other cryptocurrency platforms have allowed for easy money laundering through the region.

In “the last one year alone,” Nigerian central bank governor Olayemi Cardoso said in a February press conference following the executives’ detainment, according to The Financial Times, “$26 billion has passed through Binance Nigeria from sources and users who we cannot adequately identify.”

Considering that former Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao stepped down from the exchange and pleaded guilty to money laundering in US court back in November, the claim doesn’t seem that far-fetched.

Per the BBC, Anjarwalla and Gambaryan were supposed to finally appear in court together in early April. Now, if Anjarwalla isn’t tracked down, it seems that Gambaryan might have to face the courts alone.

More on Binance: Binance CEO Steps down, Pleading Guilty to Money Laundering

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