Biden urged to intervene as Binance exec faces dire conditions in Nigerian jail

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Some politicians in the United States have come together, urging President Joe Biden to initiate efforts to bring back detained Binance executive Tigran Gambaryan.

The June 4 letter was mostly signed by congress members, including Rep. Michael McCaul, Chairman of the House of Foreign Affairs. It has been addressed to the President, along with Secretary Antony Blinken, and the Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, Roger D. Carstens.

In the letter, the 12 U.S. politicians raised concerns about Gambaryan being “wrongfully detained” by the Nigerian government. 

“We fear for his life. Immediate action is essential to ensure his safety and preservice his life. We must act swiftly before it is too late,” the lawmakers wrote.

Gambaryan serves as Binance’s head of financial crime compliance. He was visiting Nigeria to address Binance’s compliance issues there. 

He has since been detained for over three months on charges of money laundering and tax evasion. 

Currently being held in Nigeria’s “notorious” Kuje Prison, “designed to hold ISIS combatants,” the politicians are urging the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs to handle Gambaryan’s case.

The lawmakers believe that Nigerian authorities have charged the Binance exec with several “baseless” crimes. They also view this move as an effort to extort Binance.

Gambaryan was detained after two meetings with Nigerian authorities. Allegedly, the meetings started as professional but had turned hostile.

The letter further noted that during his detention, Gambaryan also tested positive for malaria, and a court order to get him proper medical care was not followed.

Further, he was denied bail on May 17 and also did not appear before the court during the subsequent meeting four days later. At the time, the court had claimed it was unaware of 

Gambaryan’s whereabouts or medical condition.

He appeared the next day, but his health had deteriorated noticeably, the politicians highlighted, adding that he “collapsed to the floor,” when asked to “step forward by the judge.”

Gambarayan has also been denied meetings with his legal counsel without the presence of armed guards or other Nigerian authorities, the letter added.

Binance has been working to get Gambarayan out of Nigeria over the past months, but to no avail. On Monday, Binance’s Chief Compliance Officer said in an interview that the company doesn’t have any hopes of bringing their head of financial crime in the short term.

He claimed that this would only be possible with the U.S. government’s intervention.

“I have faith in the us government to do the right thing here.”

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