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Nigeria Denies Bail for Jailed Binance Exec on His 40th Birthday

Binance executive Tigran Gambaryan had his bail denied on his 40th birthday by a Nigerian judge who feared he might be a flight risk

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A Nigerian court has denied bail for Binance executive Tigran Gambaryan who has been detained in the country since February.

Spending his 40th birthday in court on Friday, Gambaryan listened as Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court in Abuja agreed with the prosecution’s argument that Gambaryan was a flight risk.

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.

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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

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

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.

In a blog post titled "Tigran Gambaryan is Innocent and Must Be Released" Binance CEO Richard Teng defended Gambaryan and decried 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."

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."

Nigeria House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes then refuted allegations of bribery by Teng.

The chairman of the committee, Ginger Onwusibe, said at a press conference that the allegations were bogus, obnoxious, false, and fabricated. He added that the claims were intended to confuse the issue and divert attention from the serious allegations of financial and economic crimes against Nigeria.

“We refuse to be diminished or deflated by the shenanigans of Binance and other enemies of Nigeria. The Committee will continue with its functions and assignments undeterred," said Onwusibe.

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Ginger Onwusibe described Richard Teng’s allegations as “blackmail by Binance” intended to distract from serious crimes against Nigeria

The judge on Friday also highlighted that Binance lacks a presence in Nigeria “doesn’t have a face” in the country.

Gambaryan’s wife Yuki decried the extended incarceration.

“I truly cannot believe that my innocent husband is now — on his 40th birthday — having to face a trial for charges that he has nothing to do with,” she said in an emailed statement to DL News.

“The whole world is watching what he is being put through and I just pray that common sense and justice will prevail and that Tigran will be allowed to come home to us.”

A Binance spokesperson added, “We are deeply disappointed that Tigran Gambaryan, who has no decision-making power in the company, continues to be detained.”

“Tigran has been dedicated to public service and fighting crime for most of his life. These charges against him are completely meritless. He should be freed while discussions continue between Binance and Nigerian government officials.”