Binance execs detained in Nigeria still being questioned over illicit fund flows

Binance says it’s working with Nigerian authorities to bring home two of its execs who were detained against their will in the country two weeks ago.

Inflation is running hot in Africa’s most populous country and when it banned several crypto exchanges in February as inflation hit a worrying 30%, Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla thought it would be a good idea to fly into Nigeria and deal with the situation.

However, as reported by The Financial Times, upon landing, government officials seized their passports and escorted them into detention.

Binance quickly responded by halting naira-denominated trading pairs for bitcoin and USDT. Still, two weeks later, the government has not released the two men.

The central bank governor subsequently appeared on TV to blame crypto exchanges, including Binance by name, for facilitating flows of criminal funds.

Wired reached out to the two men’s families for comment and was told that the government has not yet filed any criminal charges against them. Wired also reached out to a Binance spokesperson who claimed that the company is “working collaboratively with Nigerian authorities” and promised that “there will be a swift resolution to this matter.”

Read more: Nigeria debuts CBDC early, part of its plan to usurp Bitcoin and Binance

While in detention, a US State Department official has spoken with Gambaryan, an American citizen and former Internal Revenue Service special agent. Anjarwalla has reportedly been hospitalized and subsequently recovered while in government detention, according to his wife.

Nigeria’s central bank governor recently said he was concerned about illicit funds flowing through crypto exchanges. “In the last year alone, $26 billion has passed through Binance Nigeria,” the central bank governor highlighted.

There are also rumors that Nigerian officials have demanded $10 billion from Binance as a fine for its infractions.

So far, Nigeria’s office of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has not commented on his government’s detention of the two Binance employees.

Binance is facing a variety of other legal troubles. In the US, the company will pay $4.3 billion this year to settle Department of Justice, Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, and Office of Foreign Assets Control enforcement actions.

The SEC is also suing Binance and its founder, Changpeng Zhao, for untold sums. Zhao also pled guilty to US federal crimes and is awaiting sentencing.

Last week, the Second Circuit ruled that a major class action lawsuit may proceed against Binance from harmed investors who purchased SEC-designated unregistered securities like EOS and TRX.

Read more: Explained: Crypto assets deemed as securities by the SEC

Moreover, soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo will also go to trial early next year for promoting unregistered securities trading on

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