U.S. Lawmakers Seek Release of Binance Exec Detained in Nigeria

U.S. lawmakers call for a swift intervention in the Tigran Gambaryan Nigerian detention saga.

Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Michael McCaul appearing from storm clouds with lightning coming out of his eyes.
Created by Gabor Kovacs from DailyCoin
  • U.S. lawmakers have called for a swift intervention in the Tigran Gambaryan Nigerian detention saga.
  • The lawmakers fear for the former IRS Special Agent’s life.
  • The Binance executive has been incarcerated in Nigeria for over 100 days.

The continued detention of Binance Chief Financial Crime Compliance Officer Tigran Gambaryan in Nigeria continues to draw flak. In February 2024, Gambaryan and his colleague, Binance regional manager for Africa Nadeem Anjarwalla, entered the West African country on the invitation of the National Security Adviser with the hopes of resolving rising tensions between the government and their employers. This seemingly benign visit, however, has quickly turned into a long and perilous ordeal.

Not long after their visit, both men were detained by the NSA for refusing to discuss the sharing of Binance customer details outside their embassies. Anjarwalla, however, fled this detention after a month without charges, leaving Gambaryan alone to face charges of tax evasion and money laundering that were brought against Binance and the executives days after the daring escape.

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After over three months of incarceration, the clamors for the release of Gambaryan, a U.S. citizen and celebrated former IRS Special Agent, have continued to grow and have now received support from several members of Congress who are calling for a swift intervention.

Lawmakers Call for “Immediate Action”

In a letter dated Tuesday, June 4, 15 members of Congress, including Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee Michael T. McCaul, urged President Joe Biden, the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and the Special Envoy to the President on Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens to take “immediate action” in the Gambaryan detention saga.

Specifically, the lawmakers called for Gambaryan’s long-running Nigerian detention to be treated as a hostage situation following the Robert Levinson Hostage Recovery and Hostage-Taking Accountability Act, which aims to assist U.S. nationals who are taken hostage or unlawfully detained abroad.

The calls come as the lawmakers bashed the charges against the Binance executive as “baseless,” arguing that the mid-level manager was only being used as a bargaining chip in a shakedown of his employers.

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At the same time, the lawmakers contended that they were concerned about the well-being of Gambaryan.

"Mr. Gambaryan's health and well-being are in danger, and we fear for his life," they wrote, citing asserted "excessive and harsh treatment."

These concerns come as the Binance executive is reportedly seriously ill with malaria and has yet to receive adequate treatment. The Binance executive had collapsed in court at the beginning of proceedings on Thursday, May 23.

The recent letter from lawmakers follows similar calls from the U.S. Chamber of Digital Commerce in March 2024.

A “Dangerous Precedent” for U.S. Citizens Abroad?

In a March 15 letter to the Biden administration, the Chamber of Digital Commerce condemned Gambaryan’s incarceration in Nigeria as a “state-sponsored kidnapping.”

The group further argued that the detention could set “a dangerous precedent” if allowed to go unanswered.

"The implications of this act are chilling. Tigran Gambaryan's detainment under such dubious circumstances sets a dangerous precedent, signaling that any American businessman abroad, particularly those in the cryptocurrency sector, is vulnerable to similar unlawful actions by foreign governments."

Amid all these calls, Binance has also maintained that it is negotiating the release of Gambaryan. 

On the Flipside

Why This Matters 

Gambaryan has been detained in Nigeria for over 100 days, over half of which has been spent in a notorious prison known to hold Islamic State terrorists. The recent appeal from U.S. lawmakers offers a glimmer of hope of a near intervention in the Binance executive’s grueling ordeal.

Read this for more on the Tigran Gambaryan detention saga:
BREAKING: Binance’s Tigran Gambaryan Denied Bail in Nigeria

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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.

Author
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.