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Richard Teng Accuses Nigeria of Bribery as Binance Exec Celebrates 40th Birthday in Jail

Richard Teng has broken his 10-week silence on Nigeria's arrest of Binance executive Tigran Gambaryan, who will spend his 40th birthday behind bars, accusing the country of bribery

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Richard Teng has broken his 10-week silence on the Binance drama unfolding in Nigeria, slamming the country with bribery accusations.


Binance executive, Tigran Gambaryan, has landed himself in Nigerian custody until 17 May 2024.

The US citizen and Binance's regional manager for Africa, British Kenyan Nadeem Anjarwalla, were detained in Nigeria in February. The pair visited the country in to address allegations that the exchange's activity had crashed the country's national currency, the naira.

Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) charged the exchange and its two executives with five counts bordering on money laundering.

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Anjarwalla fled Nigeria and is hiding out in Kenya. Gambaryan, who serves as Binance's Head of Financial Crime Compliance, is being tried on money laundering charges along with the firm.

Binance's and Gambaryan's money laundering trial started on 2 May while tax evasion charges will be tried on 17 May, falling on his 40th birthday.

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Binance executive, Tigran Gambaryan, will remain in Nigerian custody until 17 May 2024, spending his 40th birthday behind bars

Teng Talks

Since the arrests of Gambaryan and Anjarwalla, Binance has remained silent - publicly at least. The world's biggest crypto exchange commented on Anjarwalla's escape, stating, “We were made aware that Nadeem is no longer in Nigerian custody. Our primary focus remains on the safety of our employees and we are working collaboratively with Nigerian authorities to quickly resolve this issue,” but was rather muted on Gambaryan's case.

Teng has now broken this silence, writing a lengthy blog post titled "Tigran Gambaryan is Innocent and Must Be Released" on Tuesday, defending Gambaryan and decrying his arrest.

"I want to start by sharing a bit about Tigran, a person I’ve gotten to know well, and admire deeply, since I joined Binance," Teng wrote. "The greatest irony and most unfortunate fact is that a highly valued global financial crime fighter, who is professionally recognized by his peers in both the private and public sectors, has been detained in Nigeria for more than two months for spurious reasons."

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"Tigran did not go to Nigeria as a “decision-maker,” nor a “negotiator.” He was merely acting as a functional expert in financial crime and capacity building in policy discussions," Teng explained. “The ordeal has been deeply distressing for Tigran, his family and friends, as well as the entire Binance community.”

Teng also alleged that the firm was approached by "unknown persons who suggested to them to make a payment in settlement of the allegations" and that there was a "demand for a significant payment in cryptocurrency to be paid in secret within 48 hours to make these issues go away and that our decision was expected by the morning."

In a separate post on LinkedIn, Teng stated, "We are tirelessly working to #BringTigranHome. Our request is for Tigran to be safely returned to his wife and children."

Nigeria Says No

Nigeria has since rejected the "secret" payment allegations. “Teng made false allegations of bribery against unidentified Nigerian government officials who he claimed demanded $150 million in cryptocurrency payments to resolve the ongoing criminal investigation against the company,” the Ministry of Information spokesman Rabiu Ibrahim said.

“This claim by Binance CEO lacks any iota of substance. It is nothing but a diversionary tactic.”

“The phantom bribe claim is part of an orchestrated international campaign by this company that is facing criminal prosecution in many countries including the US, to undermine the Nigerian government,” Ibrahim added.

“It will not clear its name in Nigeria by resorting to fictional claims and mudslinging media campaigns.”

Meanwhile, Nigerian authorities are planning to ban the use of the naira for P2P cryptocurrency transactions.

Securities and Exchange Commission Director General Emomotimi Agama said on Monday that the new rules could come “in the coming days.”

“The thing that needs to be done is delisting the naira from the P2P space in order to avoid the level of manipulation that is currently happening,” Agama said.

“Recent concerns regarding crypto P2P traders and their perceived impact on the exchange rate of the naira has underscored the need for collective action,” he said.