Binance execs to spend 16 more days in Nigerian custody without charges after court ruling

Binance execs to spend 16 more days in Nigerian custody without charges after court ruling
Tigran Gambaryan, the head of Binance's financial crime compliance team, has spent three weeks in detention. Credit: Andrés Tapia
  • Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla have been held since late February in a state 'guest house.'
  • A court ruled Wednesday that they will spend more time in custody.
  • The two senior executives arrived in Nigeria to resolve a currency market dispute with officials.

It doesn’t appear that Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla will be free anytime soon.

The two senior Binance executives held in a Nigerian government “guest house” since they were arrested on February 28 are looking at another 16 days in detention following a court appearance Wednesday, according to people close to the case.

The Abuja Federal High Court ruled that it would hear preliminary arguments on the custody of both men on April 5.

The government’s anti-corruption authority, which is spearheading a wide-ranging probe of Binance’s activities in Nigeria, is seeking a new two-week detention order for the pair.

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Under guard

But the two executives, who had their passports confiscated and have been held under guard, have been detained without a court order since their first detention expired on March 12.

While it’s unclear precisely why the two Binance men are being detained, what is certain is that Gambaryan and Anjarwalla are now looking at spending more than a month in custody.

And they have not been charged with a crime.

Binance did not respond to requests for comment from DL News on Wednesday.

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A Binance spokesperson told DL News last week that the company is working with the authorities to resolve the matter and bring the two executives back home.

Customer data

On Monday, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, or EFCC, obtained a court order directing Binance to turn over user details of the estimated 13 million customers it serves in Nigeria.

The agency is probing whether Binance, which has not registered or licenced its operations in Africa’s largest nation, is facilitating unlawful currency market manipulation and the movement of illicit money, officials say.

Gambaryan is a US citizen and the head of the exchange’s financial crime compliance department and a former senior agent at the US Internal Revenue Service.

Anjarwalla, a British citizen, is Binance’s Kenya-based manager. They both arrived in Nigeria to settle a regulatory dispute in connection with currency speculation with officials face to face.

That meeting ended without an agreement and the pair were immediately detained in a guest house run by Nigeria’s state security service.

Binance, meanwhile, has delisted Nigeria’s naira from its platform, forcing the country’s buoyant crypto crowd to use alternative avenues.

Osato Avan-Nomayo is DL News’ Nigeria-based DeFi correspondent. He covers DeFi and tech. To share tips or information about stories, please contact him at osato@dlnews.com.

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