Detained Binance Executives to Remain in Nigerian Custody Until Hearing: WSJ

The two men were arrested on Feb. 26 after arriving in Abuja to meet with Nigerian leaders who accused the crypto exchange of crashing the country’s currency, the naira.

AccessTimeIconMar 13, 2024 at 10:34 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 13, 2024 at 11:52 p.m. UTC
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  • Two Binance executives, Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, will remain in Nigerian custody at least until a hearing on March 20.
  • The men were arrested on Feb. 26 after flying to Abuja to meet with the Nigerian government at the government's invitation.
  • The country is experiencing a foreign exchange crisis and has accused Binance of contributing to the crash of its currency, the naira.

Two senior Binance executives will remain detained in Nigeria at least through a March 20 hearing, according to a Wednesday report from the Wall Street Journal.

The two men – American citizen Tigran Gambaryan, Binance's head of financial crime compliance, and dual U.K.-Kenyan national Nadeem Anjarwalla, the exchange's regional manager for Africa – were arrested on Feb. 26 after flying to Nigeria's capital city of Abuja to meet with the Nigerian government at the government's request.

Though neither Gambaryan, a former Internal Revenue Service (IRS) special agent, nor Anjarwalla have been charged with any crimes, the Nigerian government has accused Binance, their employer, of crashing its currency, the naira.

According to a Wall Street Journal report citing Anjarwalla's wife, a Nigerian court approved a two-week detention on Feb. 28, pending an investigation, two days after they were first placed under detention at a guarded house.

A spokesperson for Nigeria's National Security Adviser told Bloomberg that the detentions were "not necessarily [an] arrest" but called it "a national security issue" for the country.

A second court hearing on Wednesday did not officially extend the detention period but set a follow-up hearing for March 20, until which Nigerian officials were given more time to respond to arguments made by the Binance executives' lawyers, according to the report.

Olayemi Cardoso, Nigeria's Central Bank governor, told local media that $26 billion in untraceable funds flowed through Binance Nigeria last year alone. The West African country is facing an ongoing foreign exchange crisis and is searching for ways to stem capital outflows.

A spokesperson for Binance previously told CoinDesk that the exchange was "working collaboratively with Nigerian authorities to bring Nadeem and Tigran back home safely to their families." The exchange tweeted Wednesday it was still working to bring "colleagues home."

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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