Binance CEO says Nigeria is detaining US exec as a control tactic, reveals bribe demands


Binance CEO Richard Teng has called for the release of Tigran Gambaryan, the exchange’s detained executive in Nigeria.

In an extensive May 7 blog post, Teng said Gambaryan’s detention was unjust and set a dangerous precedent. He said:

“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.”

Gambaryan is a US citizen who heads the crypto exchange’s financial crime compliance department. He and Nadeem Anjarwalla, Binance’s regional manager for Africa, were apprehended upon their arrival in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, on Feb. 26. Anjarwalla escaped custody on March 22.

Teng pointed out that Gambaryan “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.”

He accused Nigeria of detaining the Binance employee as a part of efforts to exert control over the exchange.

According to Teng:

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

He concluded that Nigeria should “let Tigran go home to his family, and then Binance will work through the same process that we have done with Nigeria’s law enforcement community voluntarily more than 600 times in the past.”

Binance makes bribe allegations against Nigeria

In his blog post, Teng revealed that the exchange received requests from “unknown persons,” purporting to be representatives of Nigeria’s House Committee on Financial Crimes (HCFC), demanding a “significant payment in crypto to be paid in secret.”

Teng refrained from revealing further details regarding the amount requested.

The New York Times reported that an individual associated with the Nigerian government approached Gambaryan and asked for a bribe amounting to approximately $150 million in crypto.

However, Teng said the exchange declined the “payment demand” because it did not “view it to be a legitimate settlement offer.”

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