Binance CEO Richard Teng has demanded that the exchange’s executive Tigran Gambaryan be released from detention in Nigeria, where he has been held for more than 70 days. In a blog post, Teng said Gambaryan’s detention “has set a dangerous new precedent for all companies worldwide,” adding that he is “innocent and should be released.”

Gambaryan, the exchange’s head of Financial Crime Compliance, was detained by Nigerian authorities in February along with his colleague, Binance’s regional manager for Africa, Nadeem Anjarwalla. The duo had traveled to the country to contact officials as they conducted an investigation into crypto exchanges.

Both Binance executives were initially held without charge under the terms of a court order, before Anjarwalla escaped what Teng characterized as “unlawful detention.” The duo, along with the exchange, were subsequently charged with tax evasion by Nigeria’s Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), while Gambaryan was transferred to a prison run by the country’s anti-corruption agency.

According to local media, Nigeria is trying to obtain Anjarwalla’s extradition; a spokesperson for his wife subsequently claimed that reports of his arrest in Kenya are incorrect. In his blog post, Teng emphasized that Gambaryan visited Nigeria as a “functional expert on financial crime and capacity building in policy discussions,” and not as a “‘decision maker’” or a “negotiator.”

Binance’s CEO also published a detailed breakdown of the exchange’s operations in Nigeria over the past two years, and negotiations with Nigerian lawmakers and regulators. Nigeria is currently undergoing a currency crisis, which Teng claims has been attributed to Binance’s activities in the country.

In addition to countering those claims, he claimed that Gambaryan, an “innocent, middle-class employee,” is being held in “a dangerous prison to control Binance.” Gambaryan has sued the Nigerian government for violating his basic human rights.

Teng alleged that Gambaryan and Anjarwalla had “received multiple assurances that they would be given safe passage for their meetings,” and that during a “hostile” meeting, members of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) demanded that the exchange exchange the Nigerian naira from its platform and “provide detailed information at a granular level on all Nigerian users.”

After their detention, Teng said, Gambaryan and Anjarwalla faced “aggressive behavior” and were personally accused of “responsibility for the state of the naira and the overall economy,” as well as charges of terrorist financing and money laundering.

In a “goodwill gesture,” Teng stated that Binance has withdrawn the naira from the exchange and disabled its P2P product for Nigerian users, and urged the country’s authorities to release Gambaryan and end “involvement” with the exc on tax obligations and cooperation with law enforcement agencies. “I hope my next update is one where our employees are safely home with their families,” Teng added.


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