Two US lawmakers say ailing Binance exec is being denied medical care in Nigerian prison

Two US lawmakers say ailing Binance exec is being denied medical care in Nigerian prison
RegulationPeople & culture
Binance executive Tigran Gambaryan has been incarcerated in Kuje Prison since April 8. Credit: Darren Joseph
  • A bipartisan delegation visited Tigran Gambaryan in Abuja.
  • They called for his immediate release on humanitarian grounds.
  • The Binance executive is accused of money laundering by Nigerian officials.

Two members of the US Congress said Thursday that Tigran Gambaryan, the Binance executive imprisoned in Nigeria, is in bad shape and called for his immediate release on humanitarian grounds.

“We found him suffering from the conditions there, as he has malaria and double pneumonia, and he reports that he has lost significant weight,” said Representative French Hill, an Arkansas Republican, on his X account.

“Even worse, he’s being denied access to adequate medical attention.”

On Wednesday, Hill visited Gambaryan at Kuje Prison in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, with Representative Chrissy Houlahan, a Democrat from Pennsylvania.

‘Horrible prison’

The lawmakers were scheduled to attend a counter-terrorism meeting with Nigerian officials this week when they took a detour to visit Gambaryan as pressure for his release mounts in the US.

The lawmakers posted a video on X lamenting Gambaryan’s prolonged incarceration in a “horrible prison.”

Nigeria’s Ministry of Information did not immediately respond to a request for comment by DL News.

Not guilty

Gambaryan, Binance’s head of financial crime compliance and a resident of Georgia, has been detained since shortly after he arrived in Nigeria on February 26.

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He is being tried on money laundering charges filed by Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, as is Binance.

Gambaryan, a former special agent with the Internal Revenue Service, has pleaded not guilty. His lawyer has decried the case as “state-sanctioned hostage taking.” Binance has also denied the allegations.

Gambaryan, who collapsed on the first day of his trial in May, is scheduled to be back in court Friday. His defence team is expected to cross examine prosecution witnesses.

Hill said Gambaryan’s indictment was beggared belief given his record as a financial crimes investigator.

Crypto crimes

Gambaryan collaborated regularly with Nigerian officials to recover proceeds from crypto crimes.

It was this history of collaboration that led Gambaryan to honour an invitation from Nigerian state officials to meet in Abuja and settle a regulatory dispute on Binance’s behalf in February.

Nigerian authorities arrested Gambaryan and a colleague, Nadeem Anjarwalla, a British lawyer and Binance’s Africa manager based in Kenya.

Anjarwalla escaped custody a month later and fled to Kenya using a concealed passport. He hasn’t surfaced since but is the subject of an Interpol red notice.

‘I refuse to believe that our State Department cannot do more to have an innocent American citizen released.’

—  Yuki Gambaryan

Hill called on the US State Department to “use all means available” to secure Gambaryan’s release on humanitarian grounds.

After a seemingly muted reaction to Gambaryan’s plight, clamour for his release has begun to gain momentum in the US, with lawmakers and federal prosecutors leading the charge.

A delegation of lawmakers and federal prosecutors has written publicly to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, asking him to intervene in the matter.

In a congressional hearing last week, the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs declined to commit to designating Gambaryan as a “US citizen wrongfully detained by a foreign government.”

That decision drew criticism from Congressman Rich McCormick, a Republican from Georgia who represents Gambaryan’s district.

Gambaryan’s family has also expressed disappointment at the lack of response from the US government.

“Tigran’s and my own tax dollars get sent to Nigeria in aid every year. Nigeria is supposed to be an ally,” Gambaryan’s wife Yuki said in a statement to DL News.

“I refuse to believe that our State Department cannot do more to have an innocent American citizen released.”

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