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US lawmakers visit detained Binance exec in Nigeria, call for urgent release US lawmakers visit detained Binance exec in Nigeria, call for urgent release

US lawmakers visit detained Binance exec in Nigeria, call for urgent release

Nigerian authorities have resumed their case against the detained Binance executive.

US lawmakers visit detained Binance exec in Nigeria, call for urgent release

Cover art/illustration via CryptoSlate. Image includes combined content which may include AI-generated content.

US lawmakers French Hill and Chrissy Houlahan recently visited Tigran Gambaryan, a detained Binance executive, at Kuje Prison in Nigeria.

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.”

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.

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.

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.”

Money laundering charges

However, Gambaryan’s legal troubles in Nigeria continue to escalate as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) resumed its money laundering case against Binance and Gambaryan on June 20.

During the session, the court permitted cross-examining witnesses, including Abdulkabir Abbas, a Director with Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Abbas testified that Binance had failed 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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