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Binance Exec Sues Nigerian Authorities Over Detention

Binance Executive in Nigerian Detention Fights Back in Court

by Victor Adetimilehin

Tigran Gambaryan, a US citizen and executive at cryptocurrency exchange Binance, is suing Nigeria’s National Security Adviser (NSA) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for allegedly violating his fundamental rights.

Gambaryan’s lawsuit, filed in March 2024, stems from his detention by Nigerian authorities following a meeting with officials to discuss Binance’s operations in the country. He claims his arrest and the seizure of his passport contravene sections of the Nigerian Constitution guaranteeing personal liberty.

Detention After Apparently Amicable Meeting Raises Concerns

According to court documents, Gambaryan visited Nigeria in February 2024 as a representative of Binance to meet with the NSA and EFCC at their invitation. The purpose of the meeting, as understood by both parties, was to establish a channel of communication and address any concerns the Nigerian authorities might have regarding Binance’s operations within the country.

However, following a seemingly productive meeting, both Gambaryan and his colleague, Nadeem Anjarwalla, were unexpectedly detained by Nigerian authorities. This turn of events has caused alarm within Binance and the wider cryptocurrency community, raising concerns about the treatment of foreign businesses operating in Nigeria’s digital asset space.

Legal Battle Highlights Regulatory Uncertainty in Nigerian Crypto Landscape

Gambaryan’s lawsuit argues that his detention is unlawful. He asserts he committed no crime during the meeting and was not informed of any charges against him. He further emphasizes that he is not a member of Binance’s board of directors and should not be held responsible for the company’s actions.

Both Gambaryan and Anjarwalla initially had legal representation. However, Anjarwalla’s lawyer withdrew from the case in late March 2024, citing his client’s disappearance from custody. Anjarwalla reportedly fled Nigerian custody, which has further complicated the situation.

Case Adjourned, Leaving Binance and Crypto Industry on Edge

Gambaryan’s case remains ongoing. The judge adjourned his hearing until April 2024 to allow the Nigerian government more time to file their response. The lawsuit shines a light on the complex relationship between cryptocurrency businesses and regulators in Africa, with some countries taking a more cautious approach towards the digital asset class.

The outcome of this case could have wider implications for Binance and other cryptocurrency companies operating in Nigeria. It remains to be seen whether the court will rule in favor of Gambaryan or the Nigerian authorities. A decision in Gambaryan’s favor could pave the way for clearer regulations and a more welcoming environment for cryptocurrency businesses in Nigeria. Conversely, a ruling against him could create further uncertainty and discourage foreign investment in the country’s digital asset sector.

Source: Vanguard

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