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Binance Exec Collapses in Nigerian Court, Judge Adjourns Money Laundering Trial

Binance executive Tigran Gambaryan, who has been held in Nigeria since February, collapsed in court after being called to the dock

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Binance's drama in Nigeria continues as executive Tigran Gambaryan collapsed in court, resulting in his trial being adjourned.

Gambarayan fainted on the second day of his money laundering trial after he was called to the dock. Described as looking "gaunt and stressed," Gambarayan was helped to a chair by one of his lawyers.

Mark Mordi, Gambarayan's lead attorney, said his collapse was due to his worsening health in Nigeria's prison. The court was presented wit.h a doctor's note, handed over by Mordi.

Justice Emeka Nwite agreed to adjourn the trial to allow Gambarayan to receive medical attention at Nizayime Hospital. The trial is now set to resume on 20 and 21 June.

“For nearly three months now, Tigran has faced unimaginable stress at the hands of an unjust detention,” Gambaryan's wife, Yuki, said in a statement.

“A sense of loss for being separated from everyone he knows and loves, and now a serious illness which is not, in my opinion, getting the medical attention it deserves.”

Gambaryan served as Binance's regional manager for Africa. The US citizen was arrested with British Kenyan Nadeem Anjarwalla in Nigeria in February. The pair visited the country 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 as well as tax evasion charges. Gambarayan has pleaded not guilty.

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.

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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."

Gambaryan, who spent his 40th birthday in court last week, was denied bail by Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court in Abuja who believed he was a flight risk.

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