US lawmakers write Biden, seek return of Binance executive detained in Nigeria

David OputahJune 9, 20244 min

Binance will have every opportunity to defend itself in court against these severe charges of financial crimes against the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The next hearing is on June 20, 2024.

Sixteen lawmakers in the House of Representatives of the United States, including House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair, Rep. Michael T. McCaul, (R, Texas), have petitioned President Joe Biden urging him to intervene and ensure the return of detained Binance executive, Tigran Gambaryan, to the United States from Nigeria.

OrderPaper recalls that the Binance executive was arrested by the Federal Government of Nigeria in February following calls for the same by Nigerian lawmakers. Gambaryan was initially held at a guest house before formal charges were brought against him and Binance in an Abuja court in April. He was accused alongside the company, of charges including non-payment of value-added tax and corporate income tax, and complicity in aiding customers to evade taxes through its platform.

According to the US lawmakers, Gambaryan is a U.S. citizen wrongfully detained by a foreign government and his detention has been marked by excessive and harsh treatment.

“On behalf of Mr. Gambaryan, his family, and concerned Americans, we, the undersigned, urgently request and strongly encourage the transfer of his case to the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs,” the Congress members wrote in their Tuesday letter, as published by Fox Business correspondent Eleanor Terrett on her X handle.

“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,” wrote the group of House lawmakers.

They reiterated that Gambaryan, Binance’s chief of financial compliance, had been “wrongfully detained” since late February after granting the Nigerian government’s request for discussions regarding the crypto giant’s business in the country and that “the government of Nigeria took Mr. Gambaryan hostage” and thus needs his government’s help to be freed.

READ ALSO: Escape of Binance CEO utterly embarrassing – Reps 

They highlighted his work as a former IRS agent who helped lead some of the country’s “most prolific cyber investigations,” including the seizure of $4.725 billion in illicit funds.

In response, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, has said that due processes are being applied in the ongoing trial of Gambaryan saying he has received consular access and all due care, following normal diplomatic protocols and the rule of law.

He added that the judge in the case has sufficiently posited that Gambaryan was denied bail because he is a flight risk after his colleague Nadeem Anjarwalla fled the country.

“At all stages, due process has been followed, and prosecutors are confident of their case, based on the facts and evidence gathered. Binance will have every opportunity to defend itself in court against these severe charges of financial crimes against the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The next hearing is on June 20, 2024,” Idris said.

“Changpeng Zhao, the billionaire co-founder and former CEO of Binance is currently serving a four-month prison sentence in the United States after being found guilty of money laundering, while Binance has openly accepted its role in facilitating terrorism, corruption, sanctions busting, and in aiding and abetting paedophile gangs.

“Law enforcement agencies believe Binance operations in Nigeria are part of a broader international pattern. It will be for the courts here, as in other jurisdictions, to hold the company and its executives accountable.”

David Oputah

Oputah David M is a Bloomberg-trained Journalist with a diversified experience in online journalism and newsroom management. He is a 2023 MTN Media Innovation fellow!

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