Binance’s Top Crypto Crime Investigator Is Being Detained in Nigeria

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In his years arsenic a US national agent, Tigran Gambaryan helped to lead landmark investigations that took down cryptocurrency thieves and money launderers, dark-web supplier dealers, and moreover crypto-funded kid exploitation networks. Now, successful his post-government domiciled astatine nan cryptocurrency speech Binance, he has go nan target himself of a very different benignant of national crypto crackdown: For nan past 2 weeks, he and different Binance executive person been detained against their will by Nigerian officials.

Since February 26, Gambaryan, who now leads Binance's criminal investigations team, and Nadeem Anjarwalla, Binance's Kenya-based location head for Africa, person been stripped of their passports and held successful confinement astatine a authorities spot successful nan Nigerian superior of Abuja. Neither has been informed of immoderate criminal complaint against them, according to their families. Instead, nan 2 men look to person been swept up successful Nigeria's wide actions to prohibition cryptocurrency exchanges amid a drastic devaluation of nan country's nationalist currency, according to the Financial Times, which was first to study nan 2 executives' detention without identifying them.

“There’s nary definite reply for anything: how’s he’s doing, what’s going to hap to him, erstwhile he’s coming back,” says Gambaryan’s wife, Yuki Gambaryan. “And not knowing that is sidesplitting me.”

Gambaryan, a US citizen, and Anjarwalla, a dual national of nan UK and Kenya, arrived successful Abuja connected February 25, their families say, pursuing nan Nigerian government’s invitation to reside its ongoing conflict pinch Binance. They met pinch Nigerian officials nan adjacent day, intending to speak to nan authorities astir its bid to nan country’s telecoms to artifact entree to Binance and different cryptocurrency exchanges, which regulators blamed for devaluing its charismatic currency, nan naira, and for enabling “illicit flows” of funds.

Shortly aft Gambaryan and Anjarwalla’s first gathering pinch nan Nigerian government, however, Gambaryan and Anjarwalla were taken to their hotels, told to battalion their things, and moved into a “guesthouse” tally by Nigeria’s National Security Agency, according to their families. Officials seized their passports and person since held nan 2 men astatine nan location against their will for 2 weeks and counting.

Gambaryan has been visited by a US State Department charismatic and Anjarwalla by a typical of nan UK overseas office, their families say, but Nigerian authorities guards person besides remained coming successful those meetings, preventing them from speaking privately.

When WIRED reached retired to Binance, a spokesperson declined to remark connected what nan men aliases nan institution itself has been accused of aliases what demands nan Nigerian authorities whitethorn person made for their release. “While it is inappropriate for america to remark connected nan constituent of nan claims astatine this time, we tin opportunity that we are moving collaboratively pinch Nigerian authorities to bring Nadeem and Tigran backmost location safely to their families,” a Binance spokesperson tells WIRED. “They are professionals pinch nan highest integrity and we will supply them each nan support we can. We spot location will beryllium a swift solution to this matter.”