Binance executives arrested in Nigeria and extorted by the government

US citizen Tigran Gambaryan was arrested in February, along with his colleague Nadeem Anjarwalla, a British-Kenyan dual national.

Their detention came as Nigeria ask the executives of Binance to come to Nigeria and talk about some problems with Binance. Then when they arrived they were arrested and now Nigerian authorities accused Binance of being behind the country's economic turmoil.

Mr anjarwalla was smarter and escaped prison a couple weeks ago and His whereabouts are unknown

Mr Gambaryan rejected five counts of money laundering filed against him by Nigeria's Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

After the hearing, he was transferred to Kuje Correctional Centre, a prison in the capital, Abuja. The facility has in the past held inmates ranging from jihadists to politicians

Mr Gambaryan and Mr Anjarwalla had previously been detained in an unknown location.

In a statement released after the hearing, Mr Gambaryan's wife, Yuki, said: "I am beyond heartbroken that my innocent husband is being sent to a prison that houses known terrorists and murderers... it is beyond unacceptable that this is how they are treating a completely innocent man."

A Binance spokesperson said the charges against Mr Gambaryan were "meritless".

They said: "We are deeply disappointed that Tigran Gambaryan, who has no decision-making power in the company, continues to be detained."

The EFCC had accused Binance - understood to be one of the most popular cryptocurrency platforms in Nigeria - along with Mr Gambaryan and Mr Anjarwalla, of laundering $35.4m.

In February, Mr Gambarayan, who is in charge of financial crime compliance at Binance, and Mr Anjarwalla, who is Binance's Africa Regional Manager, were detained after arriving in Nigeria for meetings to discuss the platform's operations in the country this was a setup to arrest the executives. 

Binance was later that week ordered to pay a fine of $10bn. In reality Binance is now extorted by the Nigerian state, “pay or we keep your executive in prison” 

The government accused it of currency speculation and fixing exchange rates, leading to the free-fall of the local currency, the naira.

The weakening of the naira, alongside food inflation and the soaring cost of living, has sparked an economic crisis in Nigeria.

Binance is not alone - Nigeria's authorities have been clamping down on cryptocurrency platforms in general over allegations they are being used for money laundering and financing terrorism.

As well as money laundering charges, Binance and the two executives also face four counts of tax evasion, filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).

After Mr Anjarwalla fled the country, Nigerian authorities said he had escaped with a "smuggled passport", but a family source said he had left by "by lawful means".

Nigeria said it was "working with Interpol for an international arrest warrant on the suspect".

As of yesterday, Mr Anjarwalla was still not on Interpol's red notice list for "internationally wanted fugitives".

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