Binance CEO says Nigeria ‘unlawfully detained’ Tigran Gambaryan

Binance CEO Richard Teng says the Nigerian government has made a “dangerous precedent” for all companies worldwide following the detention of the exchange’s two employees.

The arrest of two mid-level employees following their invitation to collaborate on policy meetings in Nigeria sets a “dangerous new precedent for all companies worldwide,” Binance CEO Richard Teng said in a public statement on May 7.

In a recent blog post, Teng revealed that prior to their trip to Nigeria, Binance’s executives Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla were promised “safe passage for their meetings.” However, despite these assurances, Teng stated that the two were “unlawfully detained” by Nigerian authorities.

“Soon thereafter news of Tigran and Nadeem’s detention broke in global media. Nearly a month later, on March 23, we learned that Nadeem left unlawful detention. From that point on, things went from bad to worse for Tigran.”

Richard Teng

Tigran Gambaryan and his colleagues reportedly first visited Nigeria in early January as part of a delegation from Binance to participate in meetings with Nigerian authorities to address concerns and seek clarity on issues regarding crypto regulations and compliance requirements.

The outcome of those meetings remains uncertain. However, according to Teng, Gambaryan’s team was approached “by unknown persons who suggested they make a payment to settle the allegations” upon their departure. Subsequently, Binance’s legal advisor received a call from an individual claiming affiliation with the Nigerian House Committee on Financial Crimes.

“Counsel reported back that he had been presented with a demand for a significant payment in cryptocurrency to be paid in secret within 48 hours to make these issues go away and that our decision was expected by the morning.”

Richard Teng

The Binance CEO says the team felt “increasingly concerned” following that demand and decided to leave Nigeria immediately, refusing to make the payment through its counsel.

“We, of course, declined the payment demand via our counsel, not viewing it to be a legitimate settlement offer […].”

Richard Teng

The Binance CEO stated that despite numerous requests, Binance had not been provided with details of multiple allegations made against it by Nigerian authorities. He also emphasized that if Nigerian authorities want to progress on the matter with the exchange, Tigran “must be allowed to go home.”

Gambaryan, who holds American citizenship, was arrested alongside British-Kenyan Nadeem Anjarwalla by Nigerian law enforcement in back February. The two were captured at an Abuja airport after authorities called for Binance representatives to come to the capital city. After their arrest, all naira and peer-to-peer services on Binance in Nigeria were halted.

Anjarwalla allegedly fled the country in March using a concealed Kenyan passport. Later, reports surfaced saying Nigerian security forces were able to identify the location of the Binance representative, arresting him in Kenya at the request of the Nigerian Bureau of Interpol. Gambaryan remains in custody and is waiting for a trial scheduled on May 17.

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