U.S. Lawmakers Are Seeking the Release of Detained Binance Exec From Nigeria

United States

The U.S. lawmakers have alleged that the Nigerian government has levied “baseless” charges against Gambaryan, a Binance compliance officer and former federal agent.  

A group of U.S. lawmakers has called on President Joe Biden to intervene in securing the release of a high-ranking Binance executive, Tigran Gambaryan, detained in Nigeria.    

Nigerian authorities took the Binance executive into custody under allegations of regulatory violations and illicit financial activities.   

In a June 4 letter, 11 U.S. lawmakers urged President Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger D. Carstens to take immediate action. They stressed that Gambaryan is “wrongfully detained” by the Nigerian government and emphasized the need for swift intervention to prevent the situation from worsening. 

“We fear for his life. Immediate action is essential to ensure his safety and preserve his life. We must act swiftly before it is too late,” the U.S. lawmakers mentioned.  

The letter indicated that the U.S. lawmakers specifically requested the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs to manage Gambaryan’s case.  

Gambaryan Numerous Baseless Charges 

The letter noted that Gambaryan faced numerous baseless charges, such as money laundering and tax evasion, which they believe are compelling tactics employed by Nigerian authorities to extort Binance.  

Gambaryan, head of financial crime compliance at Binance, traveled to Nigeria on February 26 at the Nigerian government’s invitation to discuss compliance issues and how to address them.   

While the meeting started professionally, the Nigerian Authority detained the executive at a later stage. The Binance executive is currently kept in Nigeria’s “notorious” Kuje Prison, known for its harsh conditions. He has been fighting “for his life inside a prison cell designed to hold ISIS combatants,” the U.S. politicians said.   

U.S. Lawmakers and Nigeria Government 

The U.S. lawmakers noted that the recent developments in Gambaryan’s case are “deeply disturbing.” The Binance executive was scheduled for a court hearing on May 22, and he was absent. The prosecutor and defense team were unaware of his condition.  

The following day, the court reconvened, and he was present. The court asked Gambaryan to step forward, but he could not stand alone and ultimately collapsed on the floor.   

According to the U.S. lawmakers, Gambaryan tested positive for malaria despite a court order for his transfer to a private hospital for treatment, which has not been carried out. 

The lawmakers further stated that Gambaryan has been denied meetings with his legal team unless Nigerian authorities and armed guards are present.