Former U.S. federal agents rally to free Binance exec detained in Nigeria

crypto news Nigeria detains Binance

A cohort of former United States federal prosecutors and agents have urged the U.S. Department of State to intervene in efforts to help free Tigran Gambaryan, the head of financial crimes and compliance at Binance.

Gambaryan is currently in custody in Nigeria. He has been accused of money laundering and tax evasion.

In the June 6 letter, former government officials criticized the U.S. government’s efforts, which they viewed as “wholly lacking,” adding further inaction would lead to “dire” consequences.

Gambaryan, who served as a Special Agent with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), was acknowledged for his time with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Per the cohort, during his time, he worked on a multitude of cases ranging from terrorism financing to identity theft, including high-profile cases like the Silk Road.

“Several of us worked alongside Tigran during these cases and saw his tireless devotion to the rule of law firsthand,” the letter noted.

According to the cohort, the charges against Gambaryan are “False.” The letter stressed that his role at Binance doesn’t make him “an appropriate stand-in for the company.”

“We implore you to leverage the full power of U.S. diplomacy to do the just thing by demanding and securing Tigran’s immediate release back to his family and the country he has so honorably serve,” the letter concluded.

Gambaryan traveled to Nigeria in January to discuss Binance’s financial compliance. 

Back then, Nigerian officials had allegedly demanded a “substantial payment” to address the compliance issues, the letter added. This prompted the Gambaryan and his colleagues to depart from the country, concerned for their safety,

Gambaryan was invited a month later, only to get his passport confiscated and later arrested.

Amidst the growing pressure on the U.S. government, the Nigerian Minister of Information, Mohammed Idris, has come out to state that Nigerian prosecutors “are confident in their case” against the Binance exec.

The minister has also shot down claims that the Nigerian government hasn’t adhered to all due processes in the trial and noted that Binance would be granted the “opportunity” to defend itself.

His comments came in response to U.S. lawmakers urging President Joe Biden to appoint the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs to handle Gambaryan’s case.

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