Nigeria drops tax charges against ailing Binance exec as spouse calls for end to ‘nightmare’

Nigeria drops tax charges against ailing Binance exec as spouse calls for end to ‘nightmare’
RegulationPeople & culture
Binance exec Tigran Gambaryan is no longer facing tax violation charges in Nigeria. Credit: Andrés Tapia
  • Nigeria’s tax agency dropped charges against Tigran Gambaryan but money laundering allegations are still in force.
  • Yuki Gambaryan called on the government to release her husband.
  • Gambaryan is suffering from malaria and pneumonia.

Imprisoned Binance executive Tigran Gambaryan finally got some good news — he is no longer facing tax violation charges.

Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service on Thursday dropped the allegations, according to court proceedings monitored by DL News.

The FIRS, Nigeria’s tax authority, revised its original indictment and listed Binance as the only respondent in its amended filing with the court.

Even so, Gambaryan’s family said he is not receiving proper medical care even though a judge ordered officials to hospitalise him a few weeks ago. On Friday, the family said it took prison authorities 11 days to take him in for a simple check-up.

“The prison is not allowing the results of this check-up at the hospital to be released to his family, lawyers nor the US embassy,” the family said in a statement sent to DL News. “Despite clear statements from Tigran and written requests from the Embassy, his lawyers and his wife Yuki to change this, nothing has been done.”

Yuki Gambaryan expressed relief the tax charges were dropped.

“This clearly shows that any issues between the Nigerian authorities and Binance can be resolved without holding my husband in prison,” she said in a statement sent to DL News. “I sincerely hope the Nigerian authorities will now see how unnecessary it is to keep Tigran at Kuje,” she added, referring to the prison where Tigran is incarcerated.

Fresh questions

Despite Thursday’s development, Gambaryan who has been in custody in Nigeria since February 26, will not be released from prison.

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The Binance compliance executive is still being tried on money laundering charges filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, or EFCC, Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency.

Gambaryan, who heads Binance’s financial crimes compliance unit, pleaded not guilty to the charges in April but was denied bail. He has been incarcerated in Kuje Prison pending the outcome of the trial which began last month.

Gambaryan’s health has deteriorated during his 110 days in Kuje Prison and even fainted during his last court appearance on May 23.

A judge directed prison officials to hospitalise Gambaryan, who has been diagnosed with malaria and pneumonia.

The money laundering trial is scheduled to resume on June 20 when Gambaryan’s lawyers will have the opportunity to cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses.

Binance has called on the EFCC to follow the FIRS’ example and strike Gambaryan’s name from the case.

“Tigran is not a decision-maker at Binance and does not need to be held in order for Binance to resolve issues with the Nigerian government,” a Binance spokesperson told DL News.

In the meantime, the tax agency will serve Binance the amended charges via a “local representative,” according to court documents seen by DL News.

But the identity of Binance’s local representative is unknown given that the company does not have a presence in Nigeria.

Hopes mount

Those in Gambaryan’s camp are hoping the money laundering charges are also dropped before Nigeria’s Federal High Court judges go on vacation in July; they will not resume hearings until September.

If the matter is unsettled before then, Gambaryan could be facing a much longer stay in Kuje Prison.

“I am praying that they now swiftly drop the EFCC charges against him so that this nightmare can finally come to an end,” Yuki Gambaryan told DL News. “My biggest concern at the moment is Tigran’s deteriorating health and the awful conditions he is being kept in”.

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