Legal Battle Unfolds: Binance Executive Takes on Nigerian Authorities

Tigran Gambaryan, a high-ranking official at Binance, has initiated legal proceedings against Nigeria’s Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

In a report by Reuters, Gambaryan, who holds American citizenship, has filed a lawsuit asserting wrongful detention by Nigerian officials.

Presenting the case at the Federal High Court in Abuja, Gambaryan’s lawyer, T.J. Krukrubo SAN, unveiled that his client’s detention is being utilized as leverage by the Nigerian government to extract concessions from Binance.

Details from the lawsuit outline Gambaryan’s attendance at a meeting with Nigerian officials on February 26, 2024, at the invitation of Saad Abubakar from the NSA and Olalekan Ogunjobi from the EFCC. Following the meeting, both Gambaryan and his associate, Nadeem Anjarwalla, were detained, with Gambaryan remaining in custody while Anjarwalla managed to escape.

Krukrubo emphasized Gambaryan’s innocence, highlighting that no offense was committed during the meeting or at any other time in Nigeria. Instead, the detention seems aimed solely at pressuring Binance to comply with governmental demands.

Binance’s Cooperation

Court documents reveal that Binance has a history of cooperating with Nigerian law enforcement, responding to over 600 information requests since 2020, resulting in significant seizures and recoveries. Despite this, Gambaryan argues that his continued detention violates his fundamental rights as guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution.

Seeking justice, Gambaryan has requested several court orders, including a declaration that his detention violates constitutional provisions on personal liberty, immediate release from custody, and a permanent injunction against further detention related to Binance investigations. He has also demanded a public apology from Nigerian authorities.

During court proceedings, Krukrubo informed Justice Inyang Ekwo that the respondents, NSA and EFCC, were yet to respond to the application. Consequently, the judge agreed to adjourn the case to April 8, granting the respondents time to address the allegations.

This legal action unfolds amid increased scrutiny on cryptocurrency exchanges in Nigeria. Following allegations of influencing foreign exchange rates, the Nigerian government has enforced stricter regulations on crypto trading platforms.

Gambaryan’s detention occurred shortly after Nigerian authorities banned cryptocurrency channels as part of efforts to combat currency speculation. This situation exacerbates economic challenges in Nigeria, with the Naira experiencing significant devaluation against the dollar. The scarcity of dollars locally further compounds the country’s economic woes.