Binance CEO Demands Release of US Executive Detained in Nigeria

Binance CEO Richard Teng has called for the release of Tigran Gambaryan, a detained US executive of the exchange in Nigeria, denouncing his detention as an unjust action that sets a perilous precedent. In the appeal made by through a blog post, Teng emphasized the unjust nature of Gambaryan’s detention, stating,

To invite a company’s mid-level employees for collaborative policy meetings, only to detain them, has set a dangerous new precedent for all companies worldwide.

Gambaryan, a US citizen who leads Binance’s financial crime compliance department, along with Nadeem Anjarwalla, Binance’s regional manager for Africa, were apprehended upon their arrival in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, on Feb. 26. Anjarwalla managed to escape custody on March 22.

Teng clarified Gambaryan’s role, stating that he “did not go to Nigeria as a ‘decision-maker,’ nor a ‘negotiator.’ He was merely acting as a functional expert in financial crime and capacity building in policy discussions.” He accused Nigeria of detaining Gambaryan as part of an effort to exert control over Binance, asserting,

The message from the Nigerian government is clear: we must detain an innocent, mid-level employee and a former US federal agent, and place him in a dangerous prison in order to control Binance.

Teng concluded by urging Nigeria to release Gambaryan so he can return home to his family, promising that Binance would cooperate with Nigerian law enforcement, as it has done voluntarily more than 600 times in the past.

Binance Raises Allegations of Bribery Against Nigerian Officials

In his blog post, Teng revealed disturbing allegations of bribery directed towards Binance by purported representatives of Nigeria’s House Committee on Financial Crimes (HCFC). Teng disclosed that the exchange received requests from “unknown persons,” demanding a “significant payment in crypto to be paid in secret.” While refraining from specifying the exact amount requested, Teng emphasized that Binance declined the “payment demand,” deeming it illegitimate.

The New York Times had earlier reported that an individual associated with the Nigerian government allegedly approached Gambaryan and solicited a bribe amounting to approximately $150 million in crypto. However, Teng reiterated that Binance refused the “payment demand,” as it did not consider it a genuine settlement offer.

Teng said that Binance had delisted the naira and disabled its P2P product for Nigerian users as a “good faith gesture,” and he encouraged the nation’s authorities to free Gambaryan and carry on their “engagement” with the exchange regarding tax obligations and law enforcement cooperation.

Image courtesy of pixabay

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