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US Lawmakers: Binance Executive Tigran Gambaryan ‘Wrongly Detained’ in Nigeria

Binance building

Twelve members of Congress are calling on the Biden Administration to work to free Binance executive Tigran Gambaryan from detention in Nigeria, saying he is being wrongfully detained and may have contracted malaria.

The lawmakers made this request in a Tuesday (June 4) letter addressed to President Joe Biden and other administration officials, according to a Tuesday post on X by Fox Business journalist Eleanor Terrett.

Gambaryan, a U.S. citizen who was an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agent before joining Binance as the company’s head of financial crime compliance, was detained by the Nigerian government on Feb. 26 after traveling to the country at their invitation to discuss Binance’s compliance issues there, according to the letter.

The letter described the detention as a hostage taking, saying that Gambaryan was seized by armed guards, deprived of his passport and not allowed to contact his family, attorney or the U.S. government during the first five days of his detention.

Currently, Gambaryan is being held in harsh conditions and can meet with his legal team only in the presence of Nigerian government officials and armed guards, per the letter.

“It is crucial to emphasize that the charges against Mr. Gambaryan are baseless and constitute a coercion tactic by the Nigerian government to extort his employer, Binance,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter.

The letter said it has been reported that Gambaryan is suffering from malaria and has not received adequate treatment. During a May 23 court appearance, he was unable to stand on his own.

In the letter, the legislators asked the Biden Administration to transfer Gambaryan’s case to the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs.

“Mr. Gambaryan’s health and well-being are in danger, and we fear for his life,” they wrote. “Immediate action is essential to ensure his safety and preserve his life.”

It was reported April 4 that Gambaryan was charged by Nigerian prosecutors with four counts of tax evasion as well as money laundering.

Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) argued that Gambaryan can face charges on Binance’s behalf.

In a May 23 press release, the EFCC said that Gambaryan’s trial was paused because of his ill health, that he would be transferred to a hospital for treatment and that the trial will remain adjourned until June 20.

Binance CEO Richard Teng addressed Nigeria’s detention of Gambaryan in a May 7 blog post, writing that Gambaryan “is innocent and must be released.”

“To invite a company’s mid-level employees for collaborative policy meetings, only to detain them, has set a dangerous new precedent for all companies worldwide,” Teng wrote.