Jailed Binance Exec’s Bail Hearing in Nigeria Postponed Until May 17

Tigran Gambaryan has been detained in Nigeria since February 26.

AccessTimeIconApr 23, 2024 at 7:33 p.m. UTC
Updated Apr 23, 2024 at 7:36 p.m. UTC
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  • Tigran Gambaryan, Binance's head of financial crime compliance, will stay in Nigeria's Kuje prison until at least May 17.
  • Gambaryan has been detained in Nigeria since Feb. 26 and has been charged with money laundering and tax evasion, which his family calls "bogus" charges.

Detained Binance executive Tigran Gambaryan will remain in prison in Nigeria until at least May 17, following an Abuja court’s ruling to postpone a scheduled bail hearing until after he is tried on money laundering charges.

Gambaryan, an American citizen and former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) special agent, is Binance’s head of financial crime compliance. He and a colleague, Binance’s regional manager for Africa Nadeem Anjarwalla, a dual U.K.-Kenyan national, were arrested and detained on Feb. 26 after flying to Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja to meet with the Nigerian government at the government’s request.

The Nigerian government had previously accused Binance of enabling currency speculation that crashed its currency, the naira. At first, Nigerian officials denied that Gambaryan and Anjarwalla were under arrest, but the pair were put under house arrest upon arrival and, along with Binance, charged with money laundering and tax evasion a month later.

Gambaryan was moved to the notorious Kuje prison – which also houses suspected members of the Boko Haram terrorist group – after Anjarwalla escaped and fled the country under mysterious circumstances. In a cell phone video filmed after Anjarwalla’s escape on March 23, a distressed Gambaryan said he had no knowledge of his colleague’s escape plans and asked the U.S. government for help.

The government’s response to Gambaryan’s imprisonment has been tepid. According to his family, Gambaryan has received only one visit from the U.S. embassy staff since being moved to Kuje prison and has limited access to his legal team.

“There is no justice in what is being done to my husband. I am in a constant state of grief and anxiety, not knowing what other injustice he is going to be put through,” Gambaryan’s wife Yuki Gambaryan said in a statement. “It is outrageous that Tigran, an innocent man, continues to be kept in a prison cell and the ruling on his bail will not be made until after the trial starts…This is just pure cruelty.”

Both Gambaryan and Anjarwalla have filed suit against Nigeria’s National Security Advisor, Nuhu Ribadu, and the Economic Financial Crimes Commission for violating their human rights.

Gambaryan has pleaded “not guilty” to all of the charges against him, which his family has called “bogus.”

The money laundering trial against Gambaryan and Binance will begin on May 2. The tax evasion charges will be tried separately beginning on May 17.

According to Gambaryan’s family, he will spend his 40th birthday in prison.

Edited by Nikhilesh De.


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Cheyenne Ligon

Cheyenne Ligon is a CoinDesk news reporter with a focus on crypto regulation and policy. She has no significant crypto holdings.

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