US Lawmakers Urge Biden to Secure Release of Detained Binance Exec in Nigeria

A group of U.S. lawmakers has called on President Joe Biden to intervene in the detention of Tigran Gambaryan, a high-ranking executive at Binance, who has been held by Nigerian authorities for nearly three months.

The appeal, led by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and supported by 11 other congressional leaders, demands that the situation be treated as a hostage crisis and that immediate action be taken to secure Gambaryan’s release.

U.S. Lawmakers Condemn Nigerian Government’s Tactics

In the letter, the lawmakers stated that the Nigerian government has openly admitted in court that Gambaryan is being used as leverage against Binance. His legal representation has faced restrictions, with meetings monitored by government officials and armed guards.

Gambaryan’s health has also deteriorated during his detention, resulting in him collapsing in court on May 24, and he has since tested positive for malaria. Despite a judge’s order for proper medical treatment, the Nigerian authorities have failed to provide adequate healthcare.

“The charges against Mr. Gambaryan are baseless and constitute a coercion tactic by the Nigerian government to extort his employer, Binance,” the lawmakers asserted in their letter. They argue that Gambaryan’s detention qualifies as a wrongful detainment under the “Robert Levinson Hostage Recovery and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act.”

“Clearly, Mr. Gambaryan is a U.S. citizen being wrongfully detained by the Government of Nigeria,” the lawmakers wrote. Gambaryan’s family has also expressed concern for his well-being, emphasizing the urgent need for U.S. intervention.

Binance and Gambaryan stand accused of money laundering and tax evasion by Nigerian authorities. Meanwhile, another Binance executive, Nadeem Anjarwalla, who was also detained, managed to escape.

Hostile Meetings Lead to Unlawful Detention

The letter touched upon Gambaryan’s trip to Nigeria on February 26, which was at the invitation of the Nigerian government for high-level discussions regarding Binance’s compliance issues.

Despite initial professional interactions, the meetings reportedly turned hostile, resulting in Gambaryan being detained by Nigerian authorities. Armed guards confined him to his hotel room, seized his passport, and subsequently moved him to a government-owned residence known as the “Guest House.”

For five days, Gambaryan was held without the ability to contact his family, attorneys, or U.S. officials. His detention was initially authorized by a court order that expired on March 12, but the Nigerian authorities continued to hold him without a legal basis until April 5, when the matter was adjourned for a ruling.

Gambaryan was then charged with several crimes as a surrogate for his employer, Binance, and transferred to Kuje Prison, notorious for its harsh conditions.

Gambaryan, a U.S. citizen and former IRS special agent, played an important role in cyber investigations, resulting in the seizure of $4.725 billion in illicit funds. He now heads Financial Crime Compliance at Binance.

The post US Lawmakers Urge Biden to Secure Release of Detained Binance Exec in Nigeria appeared first on CryptoPotato.

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