US Legislators Rally Behind Binance's Executive Detained in Nigeria

US lawmakers have accused Nigeria of holding Binance’s executive hostage and called for President Joe Biden to
intervene and secure the executive’s release, Bloomberg reported.

In a recent letter, sixteen Republican congressmen,
led by Michael McCaul, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, urged
President Biden to address the detention of Tigran Gambaryan, a US citizen and the Head of Financial Crime Compliance at Binance. Gambaryan has been held in a
Nigerian prison since April, following his detention during a trip to discuss
Binance’s compliance issues with Nigerian authorities.

Lawmakers’ Allegations and Nigerian Response

The congressmen termed the charges against the
detained executive baseless and a coercion tactic by the Nigerian government to
extort Binance. They argue that Gambaryan’s detention qualifies him as a US
citizen wrongfully detained by a foreign government.

Nigerian Information Minister Mohammed Idris reportedly refuted
these claims, saying that Gambaryan’s detention complies with Nigerian law. Idris
emphasized that the charges against Gambaryan include non-payment of taxes and
aiding tax evasion through Binance’s platform.

The confrontation began in February when Gambaryan and
a colleague were detained during a visit to Nigeria. The meetings, initially
professional, grew hostile, culminating in Gambaryan’s arrest. While his
colleague managed to escape, Gambaryan was held at a guest house before formal
charges were brought against him in April.

Gambaryan faces charges alongside Binance for
allegedly aiding customers in evading taxes and failing to pay value-added and
corporate income taxes. He is currently held in Kuje Correctional Center, a
high-security prison in Abuja. Concerns about his health have been raised after
his court appearance was postponed due to illness.

Broader Implications and Binance’s Legal Troubles

The detention of Gambaryan comes amid broader tensions
between Binance and Nigerian authorities. The country had previously blocked
access to cryptocurrency channels, blaming them for exacerbating the naira’s

Binance’s challenges extend beyond Nigeria. In the US,
the firm’s founder, Changpeng Zhao, was sentenced to four months in prison for
compliance failures. Additionally, Binance agreed to a $4.3 billion settlement
in November to resolve US allegations of facilitating cybercrime and terrorism.

Last month, a Nigerian court issued a ruling paving
the way for Binance’s executive Tigran Gambaryan to stand trial on behalf of
the cryptocurrency exchange in the ongoing tax evasion case. Gambaryan and the
Regional Manager for Africa, Nadeem Anjarwalla, face four counts of tax
evasion. Additionally, they have been
accused of laundering over $35 million and engaging in specialized financial
activities without a license.

This article was written by Jared Kirui at

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