Binance executive, Gambaryan, may die of malaria in Kuje prison – Lawyer

The law firm handling the case of Binance Holdings Limited, Aluko & Oyebode, has said Mr Tigran Gambaryan, the cryptocurrency firm’s executive, standing trial alongside the company in Nigeria, may die in Kuje Correctional Centre.

The law firm stated this in a letter addressed to the Deputy Chief Registrar of Federal High Court (FHC) and signed by a Partner, C.J. Caleb.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the letter, dated and filed on May 23, which was sighted on Sunday, was titled: “Re: Charge No: FHC/ABJ/CR/128/2024 – Application for the Provision of Medical Treatment to Mr. Tigran Gambrayan at Nizamiye Hospital.”

Caleb said: “We continue to act as counsel to Mr. Tigran Gambaryan, the 2nd defendant in the captioned suit pending before the Honourable Justice E. Nwite sitting at Court 9 of the Federal High Court, Abuja.”

He said Gambaryan, the Head of Financial Crimes Compliance of the cryptocurrency platform, broke down on Wednesday (May 22) in prison and was administered with “Intravenous (IV) treatment for malaria” by the medical personnel.

“Please be informed that the 2nd defendant, who is an American citizen and remanded at the Kuje Medium Correctional Facility is very ill and requires comprehensive medical attention at the best available hospital within the jurisdiction of this honourable court.

“The applicant broke down yesterday and the medical facility gave him Intravenous (IV) treatment for malaria,” he said

The lawyer, therefore, raised the alarm over Gambaryan’s continous remand in the correctional facility expressing fear for his life amidst his alleged deteriorating health.

“The Consul Officer at the United States Consul Office in Abuja, emphasised the need for the applicant to receive comprehensive treatment because malaria is a severe disease for American citizens which can result in death because they do not have the immunity that ordinary Nigerians have against the disease,” he said in the letter.

Caleb, who said the defendant equally suffered from throat infection, added that “the Kuje Medium Correctional Facility is currently undergoing renovation works.”

“It is therefore not best suited for the medical treatment of the applicant,” he said.

According to him, given the above, we humbly apply that the applicant be transferred to Nizayime Hospital, Abuja to receive comprehensive diagnoses and treatment for the preservation of his Ife.

“We kindly request that this application be drawn to the attention of the court.

“We look forward to a favourable consideration,” he said.

NAN observes that the letter came six days after Justice Emeka Nwite of a FHC declined to grant Gambaryan’s bail application moved by a lawyer in the defence team, Mark Mordi, SAN.

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

The judge held that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had overwhelming evidence against the applicant that he was a flight risk.

Justice Nwite ordered him to remain in remand throughout the hearing and determination of the alleged money laundering and terrorist financing charges.

NAN reports that on Thursday when the matter came up, the ailing Gambaryan collapsed in the open court over alleged ill-health.

The development occurred shortly after the matter was called for trial continuation before Justice Nwite.

His lawyer, Mr Mordi, explained to the court why his client could not stand as soon as the matter was called.

Mordi said Gambaryan had been indisposed and a written application letter had been filed to notify the court of his failing health.

The lawyer, who sought an adjournment, also prayed for an order, directing the Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS) to release his client’s medical examination conducted some days ago.

Although the EFCC’s lawyer, Ekele Iheanacho, did not oppose giving Gambaryan proper medical attention, he opposed to a plea that the court should specifically directed the NCoS to take him to Nizayime Hospital.

The lawyer also said that the NCoS should also ensure that Gambaryan was well secured to guard against escaping from hospital.

In his ruling, the judge said: “An order of this honourable court is hereby made that the 2nd defendant be allowed to be treated in Nizayime Hospital or any other hospital within jurisdiction which the Correctional Service Centre deems fit provided the Correctional Service Authority shall provide adequate security for the 2nd defendant within the period the 2nd defendant stays in the hospital.”

He also ordered the NCoS to make available the result of the medical examination to parties in the charge.

Justice Nwite subsequently adjourned the matter until June 20 and June 21 for cross-examination of the 1st prosecution witness (PW1) and a Director with the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), Abdulkadir Abbas.

It would be recalled that Abbas had, on May 17, revealed how Binance breached the Nigerian law, operated naira peer-to-peer services in exchange of crypto assets to devalue the Nigerian currency.

The witness, who is a Director of Registration, Exchanges and Market Infrastructure Department at SEC, disclosed this while testifying before the judge.

NAN reports that the EFCC had sued Binance Holdings Limited and Gambaryan as 1st and 2nd defendants.

In the five-count charge, Nadeem Anjarwalla, a British-Kenyan Regional Manager for Africa of the company, was listed as being at large.

They were accused to have allegedly conspired amongst themselves to conceal the origin of the financial proceeds of their alleged unlawful activities in Nigeria including 35,400, 000 dollars.

They were alleged to have committed the 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 to Kenya.

NAN equally reported that the alleged tax evasion four-count charge filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) against Binance Holdings Limited and Gambaryan could not proceed on Wednesday due to his absence in court

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