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Binance demands the release of executive in Nigerian custody

Binance cautioned Nigerian authorities against setting a bad precedent after its executives were invited to the country and then detained as part of a crackdown on P2P trading in Africa’s largest crypto market 

CEO Richard Teng declared in a statement that it was time to voice opposition to the imprisonment of a U.S. citizen and head of financial crime compliance at Binance, Tigran Gambaryan. 

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Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange with over 190 million users, and two of its executives are being tried separately for money laundering and tax evasion, a move the crypto exchange is contesting. 

Gambaryan and Binance regional manager for Africa, Nadeem Anjarwalla, was arrested in February after arriving for a meeting with the national security adviser, the deputy governor of the central bank, and the CEO of the SEC. 

In a press statement, Mr. Teng outlined Binance’s experience with Nigeria, which has grown to be a hub for the cryptocurrency sector. Chainalysis data showed Nigeria had the second-highest rate of crypto usage globally, right after India. 

Bribery allegations 

According to Mr. Teng, when the Binance staff were leaving the meeting, “unknown persons” approached them and proposed payments to resolve the claims. Later, Mr. Teng stated, a local attorney for Binance had a conversation with someone posing as a representative of the House committee. 

According to Mr. Teng’s writing, the alleged agent requested “a significant payment in cryptocurrency to be paid in secret within 48 hours to make these issues go away.”  

Nigeria’s Securities Exchange Commission ordered the exchange to cease offering its services in a statement released in 2023. According to Mr. Teng, Binance stated it stopped running ads in Nigeria and made efforts to meet with the FG. 

Since his transfer from a government facility on April 8, Mr. Gambaryan has spent the last four weeks in custody at Kuje jail in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city. 

Binance executive’s lawsuit in Nigeria represents the company’s most recent legal woes. Last year, Binance settled with the US authorities for a $4.3 billion punishment after it was accused of facilitating illegal activity on its platform. Changpeng Zhao, Binance’s core founder received a four-month prison sentence in April. 

Open to Settlement with Nigeria’s tax regulator 

Binance stated it was open to following the guidelines established by the FG and recognized that it held the unprecedented authority to decide Binance’s and the larger crypto industry’s destiny in Nigeria, 

“When we made this extraordinary move, we hoped that our coworkers would be freed and that Binance could collaborate with the Nigerian authorities to address any other issues. Sadly, it did not occur,” Ten remarked. 

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Olumide Adesina
Olumide Adesina
Financial Market Writer
Olumide Adesina is a French-born Nigerian financial writer. He tracks, analyzes, and reports changes in financial markets with over 15 years of working experience in investment trading.
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