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US Lawmakers Visit Binance Execs in Nigeria

By Olivier Acuña | TH3FUS3 Chief Editor

June 21, 2024 01:54 PM

Reading time: 2 minutes, 8 seconds

TL;DR US lawmakers French Hill and Chrissy Houlahan recently visited Binance executive Tigran Gambaryan in Kuje Prison, Nigeria. Gambaryan, suffering from severe health issues, faces charges he once fought against. Efforts are intensifying for his release.

Lawmakers Rally for Gambaryan's Release

US lawmakers French Hill and Chrissy Houlahan recently visited Tigran Gambaryan, a detained Binance executive, at Kuje Prison in Nigeria. The visit drew significant attention to Gambaryan's plight, shedding light on his harsh conditions.

In a June 20 post on X, Hill described Gambaryan's wrongful detention in a "horrible prison" where he is being denied medical care despite suffering from malaria, double pneumonia, and significant weight loss. He wrote:

"We found him suffering from the conditions [at the Kuje prison], as he has malaria and double pneumonia, and he reports that he has lost significant weight. Even worse, he's being denied access to adequate medical attention."

Hill emphasized the irony of Gambaryan's detention on charges he has fought against, including money laundering and tax evasion. So, he called for Gambaryan's immediate humanitarian release, stating:

"Tigran must be immediately granted a humanitarian release, the remaining charges dropped, and he must return home to America where he belongs."

Detention Details

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 February 26. Anjarwalla escaped custody on March 22.

This visit is part of growing efforts by US politicians and former federal agents to secure Gambaryan's release. Recently, lawmakers, including Rep. Hill, and former federal agents sent letters to the State Department advocating his release.

Family Appeals

In a press statement, Gambaryan's wife, Yuki Gambaryan, also expressed confusion and frustration over his continued detention. She urged the US government to intensify its efforts to secure her husband's release, stating:

"It is time for the Nigerian authorities to do the right thing and let my innocent husband go. Our tax dollars support Nigeria annually. As an ally, I refuse to believe that our State Department cannot do more to secure the release of an innocent American citizen."

Legal Troubles Continue

However, Gambaryan's legal issues in Nigeria are far from over. The African country's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) resumed its money laundering case against Binance and Gambaryan yesterday.

During the court session, lawyers cross-examined witnesses, including Abdulkabir Abbas, a Director with Nigeria's Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Abbas testified that Binance had yet to register with his office before commencing operations in the country. Last year, the Nigerian SEC declared Binance's operations illegal and urged the public to avoid the platform.

This development follows a June 14 court ruling that cleared Gambaryan and Anjarwalla of tax evasion charges.

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