U.S. Lawmakers Urge Biden to Treat Detained Binance Exec’s Case as Hostage Situation

U.S. lawmakers send letter to President Biden, urging immediate action to bring detained Binance executive Tigran Gambaryan home from Nigeria.

Key Insights

  • U.S. lawmakers urge President Biden to treat detained Binance executive Tigran Gambaryan’s case in Nigeria as a hostage situation.
  • Lawmakers claim Gambaryan’s health is at risk due to inadequate care and harsh treatment during his three-month detention.
  • Gambaryan and Binance face a $35 million money laundering and tax violation indictment in Nigeria, stemming from the country’s digital asset regulations.

WASHINGTON (MarketsXplora) – A group of U.S. lawmakers sent a letter to President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens on Tuesday, urging immediate action to bring detained Binance executive Tigran Gambaryan home from Nigeria.

The letter, signed by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) and 15 other Members of Congress, urged the administration to treat Gambaryan’s case as a hostage situation. The lawmakers claimed that Gambaryan, a U.S. citizen, has been refused adequate health care during his three-month detention, which they described as marked by “excessive and harsh treatment.”

“Mr. Gambaryan’s health and well-being are in danger, and we fear for his life. Immediate action is essential to ensure his safety and preserve his life. We must act swiftly before it is too late,” the letter stated.

Gambaryan, Binance’s Head of Financial Crime Compliance, was denied bail by the Federal High Court of Nigeria on May 17, with the court deeming him a flight risk. Gambaryan and Binance are facing a $35 million money laundering and tax violation indictment in Nigeria.

During a court hearing on May 22, Gambaryan was absent, with the court, prosecutors, and defense team seemingly unaware of his whereabouts or condition. When the court reconvened the following day, Gambaryan was present but “slumped over in his chair” and collapsed to the floor when called to stand, according to the lawmakers’ letter.

Despite reports that Gambaryan tested positive for malaria and a judge’s order for him to receive treatment at a private hospital, the prison has not fully complied with the court order as of June 4, the lawmakers said.

Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, Binance’s Africa Regional Manager, were detained on Feb. 26 upon arriving in Nigeria’s capital city, Abuja, amid accusations of Binance making illegal-transaction profits locally. Criminal charges were filed against them on Feb. 28, and Anjarwalla later escaped from custody on March 22.

Binance CEO Richard Teng called for Gambaryan’s release last month, noting that the former U.S. IRS Special Agent had “devoted his professional life to fighting financial crimes” and had assisted global law enforcement in freezing and seizing more than $2.2 billion worth of assets since joining Binance in 2021.

The situation in Nigeria began when the country’s Securities and Exchange Commission issued digital asset regulations in May 2022, requiring permits for crypto exchanges. Despite Binance’s attempts to comply, the exchange faced unclear requirements and non-responsiveness from the SEC, according to Teng. In June 2023, the SEC accused Binance of operating illegally, leading to the exchange suspending the solicitation of Nigerian investors.

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