Interpol official vows Binance exec who escaped Nigerian custody will be ‘smoked out’

Interpol official vows Binance exec who escaped Nigerian custody will be ‘smoked out’
RegulationPeople & culture
Interpol issued a red notice for Binance executive Nadeem Anjarwalla. Credit: Darren Joseph
  • Binance regional head Nadeem Anjarwalla has been traced to Kenya.
  • His colleague Tigran Gambaryan is still incarcerated in Nigeria as crisis worsens.
  • Nigeria's crackdown on crypto is intensifying.

Interpol is searching for Nadeem Anjarwalla, the Binance executive who escaped from custody in Nigeria in March, and has traced him to Kenya, a senior official at the international police agency said Tuesday.

Speaking to a Nigerian news outlet, Garba Baba Umar, a Nigerian member of Interpol’s executive committee, confirmed Anjarwalla had fled to Kenya but acknowledged the executive may be in the wind.

“Wherever he is, he will be smoked out,” Umar said.

As the target of an Interpol “red notice,” Anjarwalla can be apprehended by law enforcement officials in any of the group’s 196 member states and held for extradition.

Latest twist

The development is the latest twist in a crisis that has paralysed the world’s biggest crypto exchange in Africa’s most populous nation.

Anjarwalla, a British lawyer educated at Oxford and Stanford, is Binance’s regional manager based in Kenya. His father is a name partner in Anjarwalla & Khanna Advocates, one of the biggest corporate law firms in the East African country.

At the end of February, he, and a colleague, senior compliance executive Tigran Gambaryan, were dispatched to Nigeria to try and settle a brewing crisis.

Nigeria’s government was blaming Binance for allegedly allowing foreign exchange racketeers to manipulate the value of the country’s fiat currency, the naira, which had plunged in value early in the year against the dollar.

Join the community to get our latest stories and updates

Binance denied the allegations. When the executives baulked at providing Nigerian authorities with transaction data for millions of its customers, they were detained in a government “guest house” and forced to surrender their passports.

Escape at a mosque

About three weeks later, Anjarwalla managed to elude his guards during a visit to pray at a mosque and fly out of the nation. He apparently used a Kenyan passport he had not surrendered to officials.

Gambaryan, a US citizen and former senior agent with the Internal Revenue Service, was not so fortunate.

He has been incarcerated in a local prison while a court considers whether to grant him bail. Both men, along with Binance itself, have been charged with money laundering and tax evasion.

‘I thought the US government deeply cared about the safety and well being of American citizens.’

—  Yuki Gambaryan

Gambaryan pleaded not guilty and Binance has denied the charges. A company spokesperson did not immediately respond to requests for comment from DL News.

Meanwhile, Gambaryan is being held in a prison that also incarcerates terrorists and has yet to hear whether he will be granted bail weeks after he was charged.

While Binance has deplored the “outrageous” treatment, Gambaryan’s wife Yuki Gambaryan criticised the US State Department’s failure to intervene on her husband’s behalf.

“I thought the US government deeply cared about the safety and well being of American citizens,” said in a statement shared with DL News by a spokesperson for the family.

“But I personally have not felt any sense of urgency or understanding for our situation from the State Department,” she said. “The nightmare continues.”

Gambaryan is expected to learn whether he made bail on May 17.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian anti-corruption authority is also going after crypto traders on exchanges that offer peer to peer trading.

The commission recently froze the bank accounts of more than 1,000 wealthy crypto traders in Nigeria.

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