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Binance Nigeria: Detained Execs Sue Authorities for Release, Request Public Apology

Last Updated March 29, 2024 3:59 PM
Eddie Mitchell
Last Updated March 29, 2024 3:59 PM
Key Takeaways
  • Tigran Gambaryan is taking legal action against Nigerian authorities.
  • Lawyers argue their indefinite detention without criminal charges violates the Nigerian constitution.
  • One of the execs has now fled the country, raising more questions.

The remaining Binance executive presently held in Nigeria without criminal charges is suing the government over his detainment, calling for his release, the return of his passport, and a public apology from authorities.

Despite one of the pair having fled the country, Tigran Gambaryan who remains in detention is going on the offensive and alleging actions taken against him “amounts to a violation of his fundamental right to personal liberty.”

Gambaryan Seeks Release

According to court documents seen by Nigerian media outlet, Nairametrics , Gambaryan, who is Binance’s Head of Financial Crime Compliance, is taking legal action against the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) and the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

According to the filing, Gambaryan and the now ‘on-the-run’ Nadeem Anjarwalla were detained on February 26, 2024, following a meeting between the pair and authorities over ongoing investigations into Binance’s operations in Nigeria.

The suit states :

“The Applicant did not commit any offence during the meeting with the 1st Respondent neither has he been informed in writing of any offence he personally committed in Nigeria at any other time.

In addition, it argues that the Nigerian government is only holding Gambaryan as they look into Binance, which sees authorities investigating the exchange’s impact on the national economy, its processing of $21.6 billion in unknown funds, and most recently, tax evasion charges.

Gambaryan’s lawyer argues that his detention is in violation of the Nigerian constitution, and as such is requesting to be released from custody, as well as receive a public apology.

A Big Mess

With numerous damning allegations levied against Binance and its operations in Nigeria, matters are only compounded by the fact that one of the two, Nadeem Anjarwalla, escaped detainment on March 25, 2024, and fled the country.

A separate suit from Anjarwalla seeks the same relief , although this may no longer apply given his current status.

As well as accusing Binance of destabilizing the naira through its peer-to-peer markets and ultimately undermining the economy, authorities have requested the data of all Nigerian users as they seek to uncover the truth about the billions of dollars transacted through Binance Nigeria.

Authorities allege these funds may have links to money laundering and terrorism financing, and in a most recent suit, have specifically named Binance, Anjarwalla, and Gambaryan, in a four-count tax evasion charge.

This latest move from Nigerian authorities could be an attempt to legitimize their actions against the duo, though with one now having seemingly fled the country, Gambaryan’s legal situation may have deepened.

A Way Forward?

Gambaryan’s lawyers argue that he is being detained and leveraged as a bargaining chip between Nigerian authorities and Binance as authorities make demands for information and data from the company, noting:

“The Applicant is not a member of the Board of Directors of Binance.”

The suit also contends that Binance remains committed to “honoring any reasonable requests” from global law enforcement agencies, and “specifically Nigeria”, noting the hundreds of requests that the exchange was responded to since 2020.

Moving forward, the Judge has adjourned proceedings until April 6, 2024, so that the NSA and EFCC can respond to the suit.

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