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Court denies Binance executive Gambaryan's bail, demands speedy trial

EFCC counsel argued that the court would have taken a risk by granting the Binance agent bail because he has no attachment to any community in Nigeria or competent person to stand as his surety.

Tigran Gambaryan in court [Reuters]

Justice Emeka Nwite, in a ruling, held that based on the affidavit evidence before him, Gambaryan would jump bail if the application was granted.

I have carefully considered the affidavit evidence before me and I am of the view that the applicant will jump bail if granted bail,” Justice Nwite declared.

However, the judge ordered an accelerated hearing in the trial.

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The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Justice Nwite had, on April 23, fixed today for the ruling after counsel for the EFCC, Ekele Iheanacho, and Gambaryan’s lawyer, Mark Mordi, SAN, adopted their processes and argued their case against and for the bail plea.

Justice Nwite had ordered the remand of Gambaryan in Kuje Correctional Centre after he pleaded not guilty to the money laundering charges preferred against him by the EFCC.

The EFCC had accused Binance Holdings Limited, Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, another agent of the company, of allegedly conspiring amongst themselves to conceal the origin of the financial proceeds of their alleged unlawful activities in Nigeria including $35,400, 000.

They were alleged to have committed an offence contrary to Section 21 (a) and punishable under Section 18(3) of the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act, 2022, among others.

However, Anjarwalla escaped from lawful custody on March 22 and fled Nigeria for Kenya. Mordi, on Gambaryan’s behalf, had filed an application seeking an order of the court, to release his client on bail pending the hearing and determination of the substantive case.

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Mordi, in the last adjourned date, had argued that the EFCC had failed to produce any credible evidence to oppose his application. According to him, the complainant’s allegation that Gambaryan was arranging to escape from custody like his colleague was false.

“There is no exhibit or document displaying EFCC’s credible intelligence. But EFCC's lawyer disagreed with Mordi."

Iheanacho argued that the court would have taken a grave risk by granting the Binance agent bail because he had no attachment to any community in Nigeria or competent person to stand as his surety. He contended that Gambaryan attempted to apply for a new United States passport while in detention knowing fully well his International passport was seized by the Nigerian state.

The lawyer said he was a flight risk and that if granted bail, he would jump bail like his colleague. He disagreed with Mordi that the commission had not provided credible evidence that Gambaryan was planning to escape.

He said going by the deposition in their counter affidavit, the deponent was one of the investigative teams that investigated the case. He urged the court to dismiss the bail application.

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In the alternative, he advised the court to return the applicant to EFCC custody if the judge decided to grant him bail.

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