Tigran Gambaryan Is Still Detained After 100+ Days: What’s Going On?

Over 100 days have passed since the Binance executive’s initial arrest, raising the question of what’s going on.

Tigran Gambaryan is so angry his head is steaming.
Created by Gabor Kovacs from DailyCoin
  • Binance’s Tigran Gambryan’s Nigerian detention has passed the 100-day mark.
  • The mid-level manager is being held for the alleged actions of the international exchange.
  • Gambaryan’s ill fortunes may be changing after a recent FIRS decision.

When Binance chief financial crime officer Tigran Gambaryan left the U.S. for Nigeria in February 2024, he had hoped to be just away for a few days. 

However, things have not gone as planned, as his mission to discuss the resolution of rising tensions between his employers and government authorities has now turned into a months-long incarceration that has seen him named in charges against the exchange despite not having any decision-making power at the firm.


Despite significant pushback from the crypto exchange, U.S. pressure groups, lawmakers, and former prosecutors, Gambaryan’s condition has remained unchanged. Over 100 days have passed since the Binance executive’s initial arrest, raising the question of what’s going on.

How it Started

The origins of Tigran Gambaryan’s woes far predate his detention. In the summer of 2023, it was clear that Gambaryan’s employer, Binance, had found itself in the cross-hairs of Nigerian regulators.

Warning Shots

The first sign of trouble came in June 2023 when the country’s SEC released a circular banning the operations of “Binance Nigeria Limited,” believing the registered business entity to belong to the international crypto exchange when, in reality, it belonged to a domain squatter who hoped to flip the name for a profit in the future, a common practice with web domains.

Realizing this error, the agency released another circular, this time naming the international Binance exchange to avoid any doubt of the target of its action. According to the agency, the operations of the global exchange in the country were illegal as the firm had not obtained the necessary licensing. The agency further warned the exchange against soliciting customers in the country.


In Binance CEO Richard Teng‘s telling, following this warning, the firm made multiple efforts to reach out to the SEC to kick off licensing procedures, but the firm was met with no response.

Fast forward to 2024, and it was clear that tensions were quickly rising.

Escalating Tensions

In January 2024, a team of Binance delegates, including Gambaryan, arrived in Nigeria for an investigative hearing at the invitation of the country’s Chairman of the House Committee on Financial Crimes (HCFC). 

At a private pre-hearing meeting, Binance representatives were informed of severe allegations against the firm and the lengths the government was willing to go to summon it, including issuing a warrant to arrest the visiting team.

After this concerning meeting, Binance’s Tigran Gambryan reported that he was approached by some officials who detailed that the exchange had 48 hours to make a $150 million payment in crypto to settle all the charges. After this request, Binance’s delegates hurriedly left the country, fearing for their safety.

In an internal letter, Gambaryan detailed to Binance leadership that the request was understood as a request for a bribe from someone in President Bola Tinubu’s government.

Meanwhile, according to Teng, the HCFC’s threat of arrest was not taken too seriously as it was understood that the HCFC could not issue warrants for arrest.

However, this threat would be a sign of things to come.

An Ill-Fated Trip

In February 2024, Binance received another invitation from Nigerian authorities, this time from the Office of the National Security Adviser. The invitation came at a time when the country’s currency, the naira, was plummeting and trading at an all-time low of 1,900 to the dollar; a crisis authorities were openly blaming on alleged wash trading activity on Binance’s p2p platform.

Despite overarching concerns, Binance’s selected delegates, Tigran Gambaryan and the firm’s regional manager for Africa, Nadeem Anjarwalla, obliged the invitation after receiving several safety assurances.

These guarantees, however, failed to hold up.


On February 26, Gambaryan and Anjarwalla met with Nigeria’s NSA Nuhu Ribadu as arranged. However, the talks quickly took a turn for the worst as the NSA requested that the exchange share their customer details—a request the mid-level Binance managers asserted they could not discuss outside their embassies.


Gambaryan and Anjarwalla’s passports were seized after they refused to oblige the NSA’s request. They were further escorted to an NSA “guest house,” where they were transferred into the custody of the country’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Following the detention, authorities quickly obtained a remand order to hold the Binance executives for 12 days pending a classified investigation.

This would mark the beginning of Gambaryan’s ordeal. He and Anjarwalla would be held for about a month without formal charges, with the latter fleeing detention before these charges materialized.

Anjarwalla’s Daring Flight

On Friday, March 22, Anjarwalla fled EFCC detention after being led to a nearby mosque to pray during the Ramadan fast. The Binance regional manager reportedly evaded his captors by mixing in with the crowd before making a beeline for the Abuja International Airport, where he boarded a “Middle East airliner” out of the country.

Anjarwalla’s escape had sparked several questions as the NSA had seized the Binance executive’s British passport during his detention. The prevailing theory is that the Binance executive, who is also a Kenyan citizen, had hidden a Kenyan passport from authorities.

Criminal Charges

On March 25, three days after Anjarwalla’s escape, Nigeria’s tax authority, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), unveiled a tax evasion case against Binance with Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla named as co-defendants in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit outlines four charges: “non-payment of Value-Added Tax (VAT), Company Income Tax, failure to file tax returns, and complicity in aiding customers to evade taxes through its platform.”

On March 28, the EFCC piled in with money laundering charges. The agency claimed that from 2023 to 2024, the exchange, Gambaryan, and Anjarwalla had conspired to conceal $35.4 million in proceeds from illicit activity in Nigeria.

Botched Proceedings

Nigeria’s case against Binance and its executives was supposed to kick off on April 4. However, things failed to go as planned amid inexplicable procedural gaffs from prosecutors.

On April 4, the judge was forced to adjourn the case after FIRS lawyers disclosed that they had somehow been unable to serve Gambaryan, who had been in EFCC custody for over a month.

This error would be the first of many in the case. On May 2, it was revealed that the EFCC had also failed to serve Binance’s legal representatives.

A Hostage Situation?

The Nigerian case against Binance has attracted significant international attention not just because of the involvement of the leading exchange but because the country is attempting to hold mid-level managers accountable for the crypto exchange’s alleged actions, a move that many have described as akin to a hostage situation in a bid to compel a settlement from the exchange.

This particular strategy and the exchange’s unique model of operating without a headquarters have posed procedural hurdles in the case, particularly the issue of how best to serve the crypto exchange. 

However, prosecutors convinced the court that the exchange could be served through Gambaryan, their key argument being that he could be held as an agent of the firm as he was sent to represent the firm in negotiations with authorities. On April 8, he pleaded not guilty on behalf of himself and Binance to the EFCC’s money laundering charges.

Following this plea, Gambaryan was moved to Kuje Prison, a facility infamous for holding Boko Haram terrorists and being the subject of a July 2022 Islamic State attack.

After over two months in the less-than-ideal prison system, the Binance executive is showing signs of strain.

Failing Health

On May 23, in what was supposed to mark the second day of trial in the money laundering case, Tigran Gambaryan collapsed.

The Binance executive was called to the dock at the beginning of proceedings, as was the usual practice. However, Gambaryan did not move on this particular occasion until one of his lawyers assisted him. 

On getting to the front of the pew, the Binance executive collapsed, needing assistance again to get to a chair to recover. The incident forced the judge to adjourn proceedings to allow Gambaryan to receive adequate health care in a suitable health facility.

However, authorities have allegedly shied away from providing adequate healthcare to the Binance executive who has reportedly contracted malaria.

What Is Going on Now

On Friday, June 14, the ailing Binance executive finally received some good news as the court struck out the names of Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla from the tax evasion case at the request of the FIRS.

The move came as the agency confirmed that Binance had appointed an agent in the country, Mr. Ayodele Omotilewa, an associate at a local law firm, Rickey Tarfa & Co., to receive processes on behalf of the exchange.

Still, Gambaryan remains incarcerated as he continues to face money laundering charges from the EFCC. The Binance executive can only hope that the anti-graft agency will make a decision similar to that of the FIRS. The money laundering trial proceedings are scheduled to resume on June 20 and June 21.

DailyCoin has contacted government officials multiple times for comments on the Gambaryan detention saga but has yet to receive any feedback.

On the Flipside

  • Binance has continually maintained that Gambaryan has no decision-making power at the firm and should not be made to represent the firm in legal proceedings.

Why This Matters 

At the time of writing, Gambaryan has been incarcerated in Nigeria for 110 days, far away from his family and friends.

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

Gary Gensler has offered a timeline for ETH ETF trading approvals. Find out more:
Ethereum ETF Trading Nod Likely This Summer: Gary Gensler

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.