No mercy for Binance employees in Nigeria

  • A Binance executive arrested in Nigeria in February has pled not guilty to charges of money laundering.
  • Tigran Gambaryan was arrested when he and another executive from the crypto trader journeyed to Nigeria to make peace with local authorities.
  • Gambaryan is being kept in prison as the Nigerian Government looks to make an example out of Binance.

Ironically, the head of financial crime compliance of crypto trader Binance is being accused of money laundering and foreign exchange manipulation in Nigeria.

Tigran Gambaryan and Binance regional manager for Kenya, Nadeem Anjarwalla, were arrested in the West African nation in February when they travelled to Nigeria to see if they could convince the government to ease restrictions on its website in the country.

Tigran Gambaryan, head of Financial Crime Compliance at Binance.

Gambaryan has been kept in prison since his arrest and has pled not guilty before Justice Emeka Nwite of the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on Monday, TechCabal reports. Nwite then dismissed Gambaryan’s appeal and saw the Binance employee remanded in the Kuje Correctional Centre pending a ruling on his bail application on 18th April.

A trial will begin on 5th May. Both arrested executives filed a human rights violation case in the Nigerian Federal High Court in March, demanding their immediate release, the return of their passports and a public apology from the Nigerian government.

Binance issued a statement last week asking Nigerian authorities to release both its executives. The company believes they are being made an example of. The company said that Gamaryan has no decision-making power and “should not be held responsible while discussions are ongoing between Binance and the Nigerian government.”

Nigeria banned local operations of Binance at the start of the year, claiming suspicion of the company manipulating foreign exchange prices in unofficial markets.

“We are concerned that certain practices go on that indicate illicit flows going through a number of these entities and suspicious flows at best. In the case of Binance, in the last one year alone, $26 billion has passed through Binance Nigeria from sources and users who we cannot adequately identify,” Nigerian Central Bank governer Olayemi Cardoso said last month.

The Federal Government has been rushing to squash crypto exchanges and speculation on forex trading following a crash of the price of the official Naira last year. As the Naira plummeted, Nigerians began trading in crypto and in foreign currencies like the US Dollar.

[Image – Photo by Kanchanara on Unsplash]


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