April 12, 2024

Nigeria detains two senior Binance executives

Nigeria detains two senior Binance executives

Nigeria detains two senior Binance executives

Nigeria detained two senior Binance executives, Tigran Gambaryan, an American who leads the crypto exchange’s criminal investigations, and Nadeem Anjarwalla, a British-Kenyan serving as the regional manager for Africa. Authorities took them into custody on February 26 as they arrived in Nigeria to engage in talks amid a government-imposed ban on Binance and similar cryptocurrency platforms. Their passports were seized, and they now find themselves confined within a government facility in Abuja, without any formal charges or explanations given for their detention.

This arrest is set against the backdrop of one of Nigeria’s most severe economic downturns, with the national currency, the naira, having depreciated by over 200% against the dollar in the last year. This depreciation has fueled widespread public discontent and demonstrations throughout the country. The government has linked the detention of the Binance executives to accusations of economic sabotage and security concerns. They argue that cryptocurrency platforms like Binance have been used for speculative trading and money laundering, activities believed to exacerbate the naira’s decline.

Moreover, the Nigerian government is probing Binance for $26 billion in transactions deemed suspicious over the preceding year, challenging the Central Bank of Nigeria with the task of identifying the parties involved in these transactions via Binance Nigeria.

Just today the Federal High Court of Nigeria ordered Binance to provide the EFCC with comprehensive information on persons of interest from Nigeria trading on its platform.

Binance data says millions, not billions

However, according to data provided by Binance to the ONSA (Office of National Security Adviser), Nigerian trading volume on the platform in 2023 alone amounted to $21.6 million. “Million”, not “Billion” like the Nigerian government claims.

Also Ndubuisi Ekekwe, professor at the Faculty of Tekedia Institute, noticed this.

A presidential advisor in Nigeria indicated that the detained Binance executives have been cooperating extensively, providing valuable information. He hinted that as a punitive measure for significantly impacting the country’s economy, Nigeria is considering levying a $10 billion fine against them. This amount, however, is not set in stone and is viewed more as a negotiation starting point rather than a definitive penalty.