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Binance escapes Nigerian tax Charges, but crypto clash continues

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Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has dropped tax evasion charges against two top Binance executives – Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla. However, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange itself now faces allegations of failing to pay taxes and file returns in the West African nation.

The charges against the executives had sparked an international outcry. Gambaryan, a former U.S. tax official leading Binance’s compliance, was detained for over 100 days and fell seriously ill with malaria and pneumonia in Nigeria’s harsh Kuje prison.

Sixteen U.S. lawmakers accused Nigeria of holding the American “hostage” based on “baseless” charges, urging President Biden to intervene. Binance had argued Gambaryan was non-essential for resolving the tax issues.

This heightened conflict further emphasizes the clash between governments seeking to regulate cryptocurrencies and the platforms driving the booming but lightly-policed industry.

Nigeria initially targeted the executives and Binance over allegations they enabled billions of naira in illicit crypto transactions as the national currency plunged. The charges escalated from money laundering to tax evasion before the FIRS’ surprise reversal.

A Binance spokesperson welcomed the tax charges being dropped against Gambaryan, saying it showed he lacked decision-making authority. However, he remains jailed alongside Anjarwalla over separate money laundering allegations they deny.

Read also: Apple reclaims “most valuable company” status as AI ambitions drive value surge

As crypto trading volumes and values soar, nations are grappling with establishing guardrails. Nigeria’s hardline tactics of arrests and levying criminal charges reflect fears that unregulated crypto could undermine financial stability.

For Binance, the issue with Nigerian authorities shows the risks of operating in murky regulatory environments as governments race to catch up with the decentralized technology disrupting global finance.

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When I'm not reading about tech, I'm writing about it, or thinking about the next weird food combinations to try. I do all these with my headphones plugged in, and a sticky note on my computer with the words: "The galaxy needs saving, Star Lord."
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