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Binance exec case in Nigeria adjourned to April 19

Tigran Gambaryan, the Binance executive detained and charged alongside the exchange over alleged tax evasion and currency manipulation in Nigeria, has had his case adjourned to April 19.

Gambaryan was escorted to court by heavily armed officers from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigeria’s financial fraud enforcement agency, according to local reports. He was arraigned before the Federal High Court in Abuja on five charges, including money laundering and infringing on the country’s foreign exchange.

Gambaryan, who heads Binance’s Financial Crime Compliance team, was charged alongside the exchange and Nadeem Anjarwalla, the Kenya-based African regional manager who reportedly escaped detention days prior.

According to local reports, Gambaryan’s legal team argued that he could not be prosecuted as he had yet to be served with the charges filed against him by the Federal Inland Revenue Service.

Justice Emeka Nwite adjourned the case against Gambaryan to April 19, while the case against the exchange was pushed to April 8.

Sources told one news outlet that Gambaryan is now being held in an underground cell in the basement of EFCC’s head office in Abuja. These cells have camp beds that can each hold four detainees; however, the sources say Gambaryan is being afforded special treatment.

“Some effort has been made for his comfort. He has fresh sheets and a shower stall that is supposed to be communal all to himself,” an official familiar with the case told DL News.

Binance: Don’t punish Gambaryan for our crimes

On April 3, the morning before Gambaryan’s trial, Binance published a statement imploring Nigerian authorities to release him.

“Binance respectfully requests that Tigran Gambaryan, who has no decision-making power in the company, is not held responsible while current discussions are ongoing between Binance and Nigerian government officials,” part of the statement said.

The exchange pointed out that Gambaryan had been working with Nigerian authorities for years before flying to the West African country. As the head of the FCC team at Binance, he has reportedly responded to more than 600 information requests by Nigerian authorities.

This information has helped the country crack down on scams and fraud ranging from kidnapping and money laundering to blackmail and extortion. It has also led to the seizure and freezing of more than $400,000.

Gambaryan has also been involved in educating Nigerian authorities on digital asset crime. This includes online classes for over 70 officers from the EFCC—the same agency pressing charges against him—and in-person sessions for 30 officers in Lagos and Abuja last year.

Nigeria vs. Binance

While Gambaryan is not in the decision-making upper management echelon—which Binance has reiterated—it’s worth noting that Nigerian authorities have summoned CEO Richard Teng in the past, but he has ignored the summons.

The first time was in December when the country’s House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes summoned Teng to answer to allegations of tax evasion.

“You cannot run a company with over 10 million Nigerians on your platform without paying tax and having a physical office where Nigerians can lodge their complaints,” the lawmakers warned.

In early March, they summoned Teng again, demanding he show up before March 4. The CEO ignored the Nigerian legislators for the second time, but he sent two juniors in Gambaryan and Anjarwalla to represent him this time.

Meanwhile, back in Suwanee, Georgia, Gambaryan’s wife, Yuki, has continued to press the U.S. government to intervene. She has petitioned the U.S. embassy, the State Department, and a team of senators who flew to Nigeria recently to help secure her husband’s release, to no avail.

An unnamed source with knowledge of the matter revealed there has been “zero movement” from the U.S. government.

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