May 8, 2024
Binance CEO, Nigerian Officials Suggest Secret Crypto Settlement
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Binance CEO: Nigerian Officials Suggest Secret Crypto Settlement

Binance CEO Richard Teng reveals Nigerian officials’ attempt to pressure representatives for a clandestine cryptocurrency settlement in early 2024. Binance CEO provided a detailed account of Tigran Gambaryan’s ongoing detention on May 7. Gambaryan, a former United States Internal Revenue Service agent who led Binance’s financial crime compliance team, was detained while on a business trip to Nigeria.

Binance’s Response and Engagements with Nigerian Authorities

Binance’s CEO condemned the actions of the Nigerian government, stating that the country has established a “dangerous new precedent for all companies worldwide” by detaining two of its employees. Despite the detention, Teng outlined Binance’s efforts to engage constructively with Nigerian authorities, including participation in regulatory discussions and cooperation with law enforcement agencies. Binance employees initiated discussions with Nigerian authorities during public investigative hearings following a request from the chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes (HCFC).

“Counsel reported back that he had been presented with a demand for a significant payment in cryptocurrency to be paid in secret within 48 hours to make these issues go away and that our decision was expected by the morning.”

Escalation and Detention of Binance Employees

The committee raised concerns about Binance’s operations in Nigeria during these hearings and threatened to issue arrest warrants against the exchange’s team and CEO, as well as preventing their delegation from leaving the country. Despite Binance’s lack of details regarding the allegations, the committee scheduled a public hearing for January 10. Binance sought to submit responses in writing, but the committee chair agreed to consider the request and respond to Binance’s legal counsel. Subsequent meetings were scheduled for late February with various government representatives in attendance.

Binance’s conditions to continue engaging in settlement negotiations following allegations of an off-record settlement proposal. Source: Binance

Demand for Compliance and Detention

The situation escalated when Nigerian officials demanded actions from Binance, including delisting the naira from their platform and providing detailed user information. This resulted in the detention of Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, head of Binance Africa, despite assurances of safe passage. Gambaryan remains detained, with the Nigerian government insisting that his release is contingent on Binance’s compliance with its demands. In response, Binance has suspended certain services in Nigeria to resolve the situation and secure Gambaryan’s release.

Image by wirestock on Freepik

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