‘Bring Tigran Home’: Binance CEO Calls Out Nigeria Over Staffer’s 70-Day Detention

Binance CEO Richard Teng has publicly demanded Nigeria release compliance officer Tigran Gambaryan, detained for over 70 days in a "dangerous precedent".

Key Insights

  • Binance CEO Richard Teng has demanded the release of compliance officer Tigran Gambaryan, detained in Nigeria for over 70 days.
  • Teng said Gambaryan’s detention sets a “dangerous precedent” against companies and claimed he is innocent.
  • Binance shut down its P2P and naira trading services in Nigeria in hopes of resolving the crisis, but Gambaryan remains jailed.

LONDON (MarketsXplora) – Binance CEO Richard Teng has publicly called for the release of compliance officer Tigran Gambaryan, claiming the U.S. citizen is “innocent” and his more than 70-day detention by Nigerian authorities sets a “dangerous new precedent” against companies worldwide.

In a blog post on Tuesday, Teng spoke out for the first time on the cases of Gambaryan and regional manager Nadeem Anjarwalla, who were detained in Nigeria’s capital Abuja on Feb. 26 and later charged amid accusations Binance illegally profited from transactions locally.

“To invite a company’s mid-level employees for collaborative policy meetings, only to detain them, has set a dangerous new precedent for all companies worldwide,” Teng wrote, demanding Nigerian authorities #BringTigranHome.

A former U.S. Internal Revenue Service special agent hired by Binance in 2021 to bolster compliance, Gambaryan has assisted global law enforcement in freezing over $2.2 billion in assets, including $285 million for U.S. agencies like the FBI, Teng said.

“Tigran did not go to Nigeria as a ‘decision-maker,’ nor a ‘negotiator.’ He was merely acting as a functional expert in financial crime and capacity building in policy discussions,” Teng added. Anjarwalla later escaped custody on March 22.

The CEO claimed Nigerian prosecutors indicated at an April 25 bail hearing for Gambaryan they were detaining him to control Binance, saying: “The only thing we have to hold on to is this defendant [Tigran].”

“The message from the Nigerian government is clear: we must detain an innocent, mid-level employee and a former U.S. federal agent, and place him in a dangerous prison in order to control Binance,” Teng stated.

Teng, who took over as Binance CEO in November when predecessor Changpeng Zhao pleaded guilty to U.S. charges over lax anti-money laundering controls, said he has since prioritised compliance and engagement with global regulators.

In an effort to resolve the Nigeria crisis, Teng said he recently shut down Binance’s peer-to-peer trading service in the country and ended spot trading for the local naira currency after concerns it was influencing Nigeria’s foreign exchange rate.

“Our hope when we took this drastic step was that our colleagues would be released and Binance could continue to work with the Nigerian government to resolve any further concerns. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen,” he wrote.

Teng called for Gambaryan’s release so Binance could continue cooperating with Nigerian authorities over any outstanding issues, but warned the situation was undermining trust in the West African nation’s institutions.

The case follows a wider crypto regulatory crackdown involving probes into major platforms like Binance by authorities worldwide, including the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Nigeria has stepped up scrutiny of crypto firms like Binance operating locally without the necessary approvals in the past year.

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