Binance breaks silence on Nigerian crisis by insisting detained exec has ‘no decision-making power’

Binance breaks silence on Nigerian crisis by insisting detained exec has ‘no decision-making power’
Binance executives Tigran Gambaryan (left) and Nadeem Anjarwalla will be arraigned on Thursday on a money laundering charge. Credit: Darren Joseph
  • Tigran Gambaryan is facing a money laundering charge after being held in custody for five weeks.
  • He and his colleague Nadeem Anjarwalla wil be arraigned tomorrow.
  • Binance is the target of a wide-ranging investigation in African nation.

For five weeks, Binance has stood by silently as two of its senior executives were detained in Nigeria amidst a bitter dispute with officials of Africa’s most populous nation.

No longer.

On Wednesday, Binance issued a statement to DL News in defence of Tigran Gambaryan, the US-based head of the crypto exchange’s financial crime compliance unit.

Gambaryan has been held in custody in a state “guest house” since shortly after arriving in Nigeria to discuss Binance’s operations with officials at the end of February.

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Binance insists his detainment is wrong and that he does not have the authority or responsibility for the company’s operations.

“Binance respectfully requests that Tigran Gambaryan, who has no decision-making power in the company, is not held responsible while current discussions are ongoing between Binance and Nigerian government officials,” a Binance spokesperson told DL News.

Urgent moment

The statement comes at an urgent moment in the crisis.

On Thursday, Gambaryan will be arraigned in a Nigerian court on a $35 million money laundering charge in connection with a wide-ranging investigation of Binance’s operations.

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency, is leading the probe of the company and levelled the allegations against Gambaryan and Binance itself.

Nadeem Anjarwalla, the exchange’s regional manager for Africa and a British citizen, has also been charged, although he managed to escape the nation two weeks ago.

The money laundering charge covers Binance’s activities in Nigeria between 2022 and 2024, according to a court filing seen by DL News.

Binance also faces tax evasion charges in Nigeria in a criminal complaint filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service, Nigeria’s tax body.

Suspected market manipulartion

The action came after the Nigerian government blamed Binance for playing a role in undermining the value of its fiat currency, the naira, earlier this year.

Officials in the central bank, economic ministries, as well as the nation’s security apparatus, suspect Binance of facilitating manipulation of local currency markets and permitting illicit financial transactions to be executed on its platform.

Binance has not responded to DL News’ ongoing requests for comment on these allegations. Before the arrests of Gambaryan and Anjarwalla, Binance publicly denied its platform was influencing the value of the naira.

Ever since Nigeria detained the two executives, officials from the National Security Agency have been demanding they produce information on Binance’s customers, transactions, and inner workings, officials close to the probe told DL News.

Court order

The EFCC obtained a court order directing Binance to release details of its estimated 13 million Nigerian users to investigators.

But Binance told DL News that neither executive possesses such information.

Anjarwalla hasn’t surfaced since escaping custody in Nigeria and state officials say they are working with global law enforcement agencies, including Interpol, to return him to custody in Abuja.

Nigeria’s government is seeking an extradition order for Anjarwalla, sources close to the investigation told DL News.

On Thursday, Anjarwalla will also be arraigned in absentia, alongside Gambaryan.

Gambaryan has sued Nigeria’s government for violating his human rights and has named the EFCC and the Office of the National Security Adviser as co-respondents, according to court papers seen by DL News.

The detained Binance executive is seeking his release from custody and a public apology from the EFCC and Nigeria’s NSA.

His lawsuit is expected to be heard on April 8.

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