In a recent development, new details have come to light regarding the interactions between Nigerian officials and representatives of the cryptocurrency exchange Binance. In early 2024, Nigerian officials reportedly tried to force Binance into a secret settlement, paid for in cryptocurrency, during several meetings.

Criticism of actions of Nigerian government

Binance CEO Richard Teng on May 7 presented a comprehensive report on the ongoing detention of Tigran Gambaryan, a former US tax agent and the head of Binance’s financial crimes compliance team. Teng sharply criticizes the Nigerian government’s actions and accuses the country of setting a dangerous precedent that could impact businesses worldwide, following the arrest of two Binance employees.

The employees, including Gambaryan, were arrested during a business trip to Nigeria. Teng describes how the exchange sought to work with Nigerian authorities, including participating in regulatory discussions and working with local law enforcement agencies.

Escalation of the situation

The situation escalated during public investigative hearings organized by the House of Representatives Committee on Financial Crimes, threatening to subpoena Binance and issue arrest warrants against the team and CEO. Binance would be required to publicly respond to allegations during a scheduled hearing on January 10.

Teng claims that unknown individuals approached Binance employees with a proposal for a secret cryptocurrency payment to “make the issues go away.” However, this proposal was rejected by Binance’s local legal representation, which continued settlement negotiations.

The situation intensified when Nigerian officials demanded action from Binance, including removing the Naira from their platform and handing over detailed user information, resulting in the detention of Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, head of Binance Africa. Despite being given security guarantees, they were held against their will.

In response, Binance has suspended certain services in Nigeria, hoping to de-escalate the situation and secure Gambaryan’s release. Further talks with Nigerian authorities are planned for the end of February.


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