Binance Exec’s “Unlawful Custody” Drags on as Nigeria Fumbles

Tigran Gambaryan’s stay in Nigerian custody looks set to be extended.

Tigran Gambaryan sitting in a smokey prison cell.
Created by Gabor Kovacs from DailyCoin
  • Binance executive Tigran Gambaryan’s stay in Nigerian custody has been extended.
  • The custody extension follows an inexplicable gaff from Nigerian authorities in a recent court hearing.
  • The Binance compliance head has been stuck in the African nation for over a month.

Over the past month, tensions between Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, and the Nigerian government have rapidly escalated with two of the firm’s executives, Nadeem Anjarwalla, regional head for Africa, and Tigran Gambaryan, head of financial crime compliance, detained and charged alongside the exchange for tax evasion and money laundering.

However, just before these charges were unveiled, Anjarwalla escaped detention and fled the country towards the end of March, leaving only Gambaryan. With Anjarwalla’s absence, legal proceedings in the combined criminal cases were scheduled to start on Thursday, April 4, with the arraignment of Gambaryan. These legal proceedings, however, failed to take off due to an inexplicable gaff from Nigerian agencies.

Gambaryan to Remain in EFCC Custody as Authorities Fail to Serve Him

On Thursday, April 4, a federal high court in Abuja adjourned the arraignment of Gambaryan to April 19 at the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) request. The country’s tax authority claimed that they could not reach and serve the Binance executive, who has been in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the country’s anti-graft agency, since the end of February 2024.


Speaking with DailyCoin, TEMPLARS Associate Albright Emmanuel asserted that there could be several reasons for the FIRS’ failure to serve Gambaryan. When asked if these could include delay tactics, she asserted, “Yes! Definitely.”

With the adjournment, the Binance executive could not enter a plea or push for bail and will remain in EFCC custody for at least another two weeks until the set arraignment date.

“Unlawful Custody?”

Gambaryan and Anjarwalla arrived in Nigeria in February 2024 at the government’s invitation to resolve issues with Binance amid claims that the platform had facilitated the manipulation of the naira, which was trading at all-time lows against the dollar. Not long after their arrival, however, both men were detained by the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) for refusing to discuss sharing Binance customer details outside their embassies.


The custody of the Binance executives was handed over to the EFCC, which obtained a remand order to keep them in custody pending investigations into allegations that the exchange facilitated money laundering and terrorism financing. The arrest of the two executives has received pushback from abroad and within the country’s shores. 

In a March 15 letter to the President Biden administration, the U.S. Chamber of Digital Commerce slammed the detention as akin to a “state-sponsored kidnapping.” At the same time, a person representing Anjarwalla and Gambaryan had described the detention of the Binance executives as “unlawful custody” while addressing the former’s escape in a statement to Reuters.

Furthermore, pleading for Gambaryan’s acquittal on Wednesday, April 3, Binance asserted he held “no decision-making power in the company.”

Despite these assertions, in conversation with DailyCoin, TEMPLARS’ Albright Emmanuel suggested that Nigerian authorities have toed the legal path. She explained that the detention of Anjarwalla and Gambaryan did not immediately become illegal following the expiration of the first remand order on March 12, as some have suggested.

"So, if I apply to have you in jail for 2weeks so that I can investigate you, and towards the end of those two weeks, I don't have enough evidence yet, at the end of that two weeks, there'll be a hearing to determine if they can let you go, so I have to prepare to move another application to extend the time to give me more time."

Addressing the charges against Gambaryan despite his lack of decision-making power at Binance, Emmanuel noted that the principle of “removing the veil of incorporation” allowed authorities to go after individuals within a company suspected of being involved in committing a crime, regardless of their office. 

She further explained that even if it later turns out that the person in question was not involved in the crime, it could still play into the hands of prosecutors.

"During trial, if they can get evidence that illegal acts were done under the guise of the company, even if the person in custody isn't the person that did it, they can now use that evidence gotten under oath to go after the company."

With Gambaryan now facing formal charges, Emmanuel noted that the Binance executive will have to seek bail to leave EFCC custody as the case proceeds. 

Before the criminal charges were filed, Gambaryan had filed a lawsuit against the NSA and the EFCC, demanding to be released over human rights violations. The matter was adjourned till April 8.

On the Flipside 

  • Binance maintains that it is still negotiating with the Nigerian government.

Why This Matters

Gambaryan has remained in Nigerian custody and has not seen his family for over a month. The recent case adjournment ensures that the Binance executive will remain in Nigeria for at least another two weeks.

Read this for more on the Binance-Nigeria situation:
Unraveling Binance’s Nigeria Woes as Govt Hunts User Info

Stay up-to-date with the latest on pending Ethereum ETF applications:
SEC Requests Comments on Ethereum ETFs as May Deadline Looms

This article is for information purposes only and should not be considered trading or investment advice. Nothing herein shall be construed as financial, legal, or tax advice. Trading forex, cryptocurrencies, and CFDs pose a considerable risk of loss.

Okoya David

David Okoya is a crypto news reporter at DailyCoin based in Nigeria. He covers various topics related to the cryptocurrency industry, including exchanges, regulations, and price movements, and strives to bring fresh angles to breaking news. With experience as a freelance crypto news writer, David upholds the highest journalistic standards, telling complete stories and answering lingering questions whenever possible.