• Thursday, May 23, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Binance: $35m money laundering trial stalled, court adjourns till May 17

Court remands Binance executive in Kuje prison
The trial of Binance Holding Limited and one of its executives, Tigran Gambaryan scheduled for Thursday at a federal high court sitting in Abuja was stalled over non-service of relevant materials on the former by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Binance and its executives were arraigned in April before Justice Emeka Nwite on a 5-count charge bordering on alleged tax evasion, currency speculation and money laundering to the tune of $34,400,000, and May 2 was slated for trial.

At Thursday’s sitting,  when the matter was called up at the court, Tonye Krukrubo, counsel to the first defendant (Binance Holdings Ltd) told the court that his client despite being served with the charges, has not received the materials, including additional evidence required for the prosecution of the case.

Ekele Iheanacho, counsel to the EFCC however said the 1st defendant was served through the second defendant, Tigran Gambaryan. He said a bailiff was sent to the Correctional facility in Kuje where Gambaryan is being held to serve the processes.

Justice Nwite then asked that the Baliff be called to provide further explanation. The bailiff said he went to the Correctional facility on April 30, but could not file the process as Gambaryan declined to accept it.

Judge warns against delay

Justice Nwite then asked that the first defendant be served in court. After the service, Krukrubo, then sought an adjournment to enable him to go through the materials and prepare properly for trial.

He argued that if the trial should go on as scheduled, he cannot actively participate as he has just been served.

“I need to go through it,  so I am calling for an adjournment. In criminal proceedings, parties are allowed to access the materials “, he said.

Justice Nwite, however, expressed concerns that the trial which had pledged to grant expeditious hearing is being delayed unnecessarily by parties, especially the projecting council.  He noted that the prosecuting council had ample time since the last adjourned date in early April to appropriately serve the processes, and warned against further delay.

“It behoves on the prosecutor to do within your power to see the matter moves forward. I will not entertain any delay”, Nwite said.

Iheanacho, however, assured the judge that his party was ready,  except for the error on the part of the Baliff.

Justice Nwite consequently adjourned the hearing on the matter till May 17. The judge will hear the matter after he gives a ruling on the bail application filed by Tigran Gambaryan.