Nigeria Tracks Fleeing Binance Executive to Kenya, Hatches Extradition

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The Nigerian authorities say Binance executive Nadeem Arjarwalla who fled custody is in Kenya and there are concrete steps to ensure his extradition back to the country.

Arjarwalla’s Escape and Pursuit

A national newspaper, The Punch cited sources from the presidency stating that after fleeing from Nigeria, Arjarwalla landed in Kenya and went into hiding to evade detection. However, the source claims that his whereabouts in the East African country is known to the authorities.

According to the source, Arjarwalla’s escape from custody in Nigeria has sparked a collaborative effort between Nigerian authorities, Interpol, and Kenyan police to facilitate his extradition back to Nigeria. Arjarwalla and his colleague are facing charges related to alleged manipulation of the country’s fiat currency, the Nigerian naira.

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Meeting, Detention and Extradition Proceedings

Arjarwalla’s ordeal began in February when he arrived in Nigeria for a “meeting” with the authorities to clarify Binance’s position amid accusations of fiat currency manipulation by the exchange. He was however detained alongside another Binance executive. Arjarwalla found himself facing charges of money laundering from the country’s Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC).

The Binance executive’s daring escape from custody on March 22, reportedly boarding a flight out of Abuja on a Middle East airline, however raised questions about the efficacy of Nigeria’s security measures.

The circumstances of his escape was more puzzling given that his United Kingdom passport, which he used to enter Nigeria, remained in Nigerian custody. There were reports that Arjarwalla escaped Nigeria using a Kenyan passport. The Nigerian government is now working to have him extradited from Kenya.

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Ripple Effects on Binance and Cryptocurrency Regulations

Meanwhile, Arjarwalla’s colleague, Binance executive Tigran Gambaryan, head of financial crime complaint, legal battle in Nigeria was adjourned to April 19. At his arraignment in court, Gambaryan pleaded not guilty to the charges of money laundering and has garnered support from his wife and others, who have launched a petition for his release back to the United States.

Against this backdrop, Binance decided to cease all naira transactions on its platform, effective March 5. The exchange also delisted all naira trading pairs in February. The move came after the Central Bank of Nigeria raised concerns about crypto exchanges in the country allegedly handling illicit transactions, with specific mention of “suspicious flows” of funds at Binance.

Gambaryan will reappear in court on Friday. If Arjarwalla’ extradition is speedily pursued, he might make a surprise appearance alongside him.

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