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Binance CEO Exposes Nigerian Authorities: Demands Immediate Release of Detained Exec

Binance CEO Richard Teng has advocated for the release of Tigran Gambaryan, head of the crypto exchange’s Financial Crime Compliance team, who has been detained by the Nigerian government for over 70 days.

Gambaryan reportedly flew to the country in February for talks on collaborative policy meetings, only to be detained later. This move by the Nigerian authorities has set a dangerous new precedent for all companies worldwide, Teng said in his statement.

Arrest of Executives Sets Dangerous Precedent

In the latest blog post, the Binance CEO said Gambaryan didn’t travel to Nigeria to make decisions or negotiate. He was there solely as an expert in financial crime, contributing to policy discussions and capacity building. Teng said the arrests were made despite Nigerian authorities’ assurances that they would be granted safe passage for their meetings.

Apart from Gambaryan, the exchange’s African regional manager, Nadeem Anjarwalla, was also arrested in February after arriving for a meeting that involved the SEC CEO, the deputy governor of the central bank, and the national security adviser, as reported by Teng.

“Let Tigran go home to his family, and then Binance will work through the same process that we have done with Nigeria’s law enforcement community voluntarily more than 600 times in the past. We will always work to protect innocent users, and bad actors are not welcome on our platform. We will work tirelessly with public and private partners to remove them.”

Ten further affirmed that Binance will continue engagement with Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) to resolve potential historic tax liabilities.

How Did The Arrests Unfold?

Binance reportedly took proactive steps, reaching out to Nigeria’s SEC multiple times to seek guidance and offering to collaborate with local authorities for consultation in 2022

The following year, the SEC issued a cease and desist order against the exchange. However, the circular targeted “Binance Nigeria Limited,” a separate entity not affiliated with Binance. Despite this, Binance suspended all solicitation activities in the African country. While Teng acknowledged that the firm repeatedly sought to cooperate with the SEC, it received no response from the regulator.

Binance employees, including Gambaryan, traveled to Nigeria for a rescheduled public hearing on January 10. They met with the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) and the House Committee on Financial Crimes (HCFC) in pre-hearing meetings, demanding responses to allegations.

Binance hadn’t received these allegations and proposed written responses, declining a settlement offer for clear terms, no public hearing, and employee safety.

Gambaryan and Anjarwalla were detained during a public hearing and were accused of Nigeria’s economic issues and terrorism financing. They were moved to a high-security compound after seizing their passports. While Binance agreed to delist the naira for their release, Gambaryan still remains detained.

The Binance CEO said that the Nigerian government’s actions suggest its conspiracy to control Binance through Gambaryan’s detention despite the exchange’s actions such as suspending Nigerian naira trading and P2P services, as well as repeated attempts to engage with authorities.

Anjarwalla was released on March 23, but Gambaryan remains detained. The duo even filed a lawsuit against the NSA and EFCC for violating their human rights.

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