Binance, the global crypto exchange at the centre of a crypto crackdown in Nigeria, has asked authorities to release its detained executive Tigran Gambaryan, a week after the company was charged with tax evasion.

Binance said Gambaryan, a former US Agent, “has no decision-making power in the company and should not be held responsible while discussions are ongoing between Binance and the Nigerian government”. 

Gambaryan was detained alongside Nadeem Anjarwalla, Binance’s Kenya-based regional manager for Africa. Both executives had flown into the country to resolve the company’s restricted website access. Anjarwalla fled the country with a smuggled passport, the office of Nigeria’s national security adviser (NSA) said. 

Last week, both executives filed a human rights violation suit at the Federal High Court of Nigeria, asking the office of the NSA and Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to release them, return their passports, and issue a public apology. 

Binance claims that Gambaryan—who leads Binance’s Financial Crime Compliance (FCC) team and was hired in 2021 to help fix the crypto giant’s complaint issue—has worked with Nigerian law enforcement in the past, providing information that helped tackle fraud and money laundering activities up to the tune of $400,000. The company said Gambaryan’s team facilitated multiple training sessions for Nigerian law enforcement on the role of exchanges in the digital asset ecosystem.

This is Gambaryan’s fifth week in detention. Last week, the Nigerian government filed tax evasion charges against Binance and sought an international arrest warrant for Anjarwalla, Binance’s regional manager for Africa who fled custody.

Faith Omoniyi Reporter

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