Binance exec is hospitalised as spouse decries ‘unjust detention’ following collapse in Nigerian courtroom

Binance exec is hospitalised as spouse decries ‘unjust detention’ following collapse in Nigerian courtroom
RegulationPeople & culture
Binance executive Tigran Gambaryan was denied bail by a Nigerian court as he faces money laundering trial. Credit: Andrés Tapia
  • Tigran Gambaryan’s family continues to lament the Binance executive’s ordeal in Nigeria.
  • Gambaryan fainted in court on Thursday.
  • A judge agreed to allow Gambaryan to be moved to a hospital for treatment.

Binance executive Tigran Gambaryan was hospitalised Thursday after fainting in a courtoom in Abuja, Nigeria, during his money laundering trial, DL News has learned.

Justice Emeka Nwite directed Nigeria’s prison authorities to take Gambaryan to Nizayime Hospital, an upscale private medical facility in Abuja for treatment, according to a person familiar with the order.

Meanwhile, Yuki Gambaryan, the wife of the jailed Binance man, lambasted Nigerian authorities for incarcerating and mistreating her husband.

‘The conditions in the notorious Kuje Prison are, in a word, devastating.

—  Yuki Gambaryan

“Yesterday, despite numerous signs of severe illness, my husband was still required to appear in court, where he later collapsed,” Yuki said in a statement sent to DL News.

“The conditions in the notorious Kuje Prison are, in a word, devastating,” Yuki said, referring to the facility where Tigran has been held for the last seven weeks while he is being tried on a money laundering charge.

“My husband is a strong, healthy person but he is facing an environment that would bring even the strongest among us to our knees.”

Gambaryan hospitalised

On Thursday, Gambaryan, 40, Binance’s US-based head of financial crime compliance, fainted as he stepped into the dock to face charges he engaged in a $35 million money laundering scheme with his employer.

Gambaryan has been incarcerated in Kuje Prison since April 8 after pleading not guilty to the money laundering charge filed by Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

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On May 17, the opening day of his trial, a judge denied Gambaryan bail on the grounds he is a flight risk.

Kuje Prison is a pre-trial detention facility in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, notorious for holding suspected Boko Haram and Islamic State terrorists.

Even as one of Gambaryan’s lawyers assisted him on Thursday, his lead lawyer, Mark Mordi, pleaded with the court to provide urgent medical care for the Binance executive.

Alleged tax violations

Gambaryan’s next court appearance is slated for June 14 when he will be arraigned on tax violation charges filed by Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service. That’s a separate criminal indictment from the EFCC’s money laundering case.

His money laundering trial has been postponed until June 20.

Gambaryan’s travails began when he was detained on February 26 after a meeting with Nigerian officials to settle a regulatory dispute regarding Binance’s impact on the nation’s troubled currency, the naira.

He was detained alongside Nadeem Anjarwalla, Binance’s regional manager based in Kenya when they both refused to hand over customer information of the company’s Nigerian users.

Anjarwalla, a British lawyer, escaped detention a month later with a Kenyan passport and is the target of an Interpol red notice.

With Anjarwalla in the wind, Nigeria’s government has tightened its grip on Gambaryan with prosecutors saying they must do so because “Binance has no face in Nigeria.”

Hostage taking

However, Gambaryan’s lawyers have countered this stance describing their client’s ordeal as “state-sanctioned hostage-taking.”

Gambaryan’s family also appealed for his release amid his current health crisis.

“This punitive punishment against Tigran in an effort to target his employer has gone on long enough,” Yuki said. “My husband is sick, he needs help.”

“Please show some sense of humanity.”

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