Binance Urges Nigeria to Free Former US Federal Agent-Turned Crypto Exec Gambaryan

April 4, 2024

Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange by trading volume, has penned a statement to Nigerian authorities, urging them to release Tigran Gambaryan, its financial crime compliance head, who has been detained in the country since Feb. 25. 

In its plea for the detained executive’s release, Binance brought highlighted the impact of his professional work on global law enforcement and financial compliance. The firm showcased the unwavering dedication of Gambaryan in fostering regulatory transparency and his vital role in international and Nigerian initiatives aimed at curbing financial crimes. 

Moreover, Binance emphasized Gambaryan’s distinguished career as a U.S. Federal Agent, where his direct involvement in crucial investigations concerning national security, terrorism financing, cybercrimes, and more has been instrumental. His decisive roles in dissecting complex cases such as the Silk Road, BTC-e, and the Mt. Gox hack have solidified his reputation as a key player in the cybercrime arena, reflecting his steadfast commitment to justice.

With Gambaryan joining Binance, the company witnessed a transformative shift toward pioneering compliance and policy frameworks that significantly exceeded standard industry practices. The statement from Binance highlighted, “Tigran is a strict law enforcement professional and is not part of Binance management. While he has left official service of the U.S. government, he has remained fully committed to the role of law enforcement officer ever since, operating as a global advocate for good governance and transparent regulatory financial practices.”

His leadership was pivotal in developing innovative strategies for the Financial Crime Compliance (FCC) team, elevating it to become a critical asset for law enforcement worldwide. Furthermore, Binance clarified that Gambaryan’s role is sharply focused on promoting law enforcement cooperation and overseeing compliance measures, excluding him from any managerial decision-making processes.

“Binance respectfully requests that Tigran Gambaryan, who has no decision-making power in the company, is not held responsible while current discussions are ongoing between Binance and Nigerian government officials,” the crypto company said.

Nigeria’s authoritative body for combating financial crimes, the Economic Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), is reportedly planning to press charges against Gambaryan for alleged involvement in laundering over $35.4 million, revealed a local news outlet Tuesday, adding that the charges are expected to be filed Thursday.

Yuki Gambaryan, the spouse of the detained Binance executive, launched a petition in in a bid to get her husband home from what she described as “unjust detention in Nigeria.” Originally from Suwanee, Georgia, where he resides with his wife and two young children, the Binance executive had traveled to Nigeria on what was intended to be a brief 48-hour visit, carrying only a small bag for his journey. 

However, weeks have passed, and Nigerian authorities have yet to permit him to return home, as they allegedly fabricated charges against him. Compounding the distress surrounding Gambaryan’s detention in Nigeria is a stark lack of progress from the United States government in securing his release. 

According to his wife’s statements, as of April 3, there has been a noticeable absence of support, with representatives from the U.S. embassy in Nigeria failing to visit the detained Binance executive for more than 12 days. This inaction has exacerbated the situation, heightening concerns over the welfare and rights of an American citizen detained abroad. 

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