Binance CEO Urges Nigerian Authorities to Release Tigran Gambaryan

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Binance chief executive officer Richard Teng has made his first public statement regarding the detention of Tigran Gambaryan, a compliance officer at the crypto exchange, in Nigeria. According to a post on X, Teng unequivocally asserted Gambaryan’s innocence and urged Nigerian authorities to release him immediately.

Allegation Against Binance and its Effect on Two Execs

Lawyer Ekele Iheanacho, representing the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), filed an ex parte motion alleging that Binance’s activities in Nigeria show signs of criminal behavior, citing provisions in the EFCC Act of 2004 and the Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) Act of 2022 requiring the reporting of suspicious transactions, with the opposing party absent during the filing.

In a court affidavit, EFCC operative Hamma Bello pointed out various illicit activities, such as price manipulation and market distortion, exacerbating the depreciation of the Nigerian naira in comparison to other currencies, among others. As a result of these allegations, Nadeem Anjarwalla, a Binance executive, and his colleague Tigran Gambaryan were invited by the Nigerian authorities to answer questions on the operations of Binance, where they were arrested.

Teng Insist his Friend Committed no Crime

Teng has shared his disappointment in a blog post regarding recent events. He believes it is risky for companies to invite mid-level employees to collaborative policy meetings, only to detain them, as this may establish a hazardous precedent for corporations across the globe.

According to the CEO, Gambaryan was a Special Agent for the U.S. IRS and has done nothing but devote his professional life to combating financial crimes. This is the exact reason he was hired by Binance in 2021, and he has since helped global law enforcement with freezing and seizing assets, among other responsibilities.

Initially expected to appear in Court on April 19, Gambaryan’s court appearance was postponed, and a bail hearing was rescheduled for April 22. He has pleaded not guilty to charges of tax evasion and money laundering brought by Nigeria’s EFCC, with a pending bail hearing scheduled for May 17.

Securing Binance Exec’s Return to the US

Teng noted that his colleague and friend had been detained for over 70 days without any lawful reason. As such, he is currently working with his team to seek ways to secure the release of his detained colleague. The team uses the hashtag #BringTigranHome to raise awareness and garner support for their cause.

Likewise, Yuki Gambaryan, Tigran’s wife, launched a petition on March 30, urging the United States Department, Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Nigerian government, and U.S. President Joe Biden to secure her husband’s return to the United States. Interestingly, the petition has garnered 3,960 signatures as of April 23.

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