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Nigerian minister defends trial of detained Binance exec amid US lawmakers’ outcry

nigerian-minister-defends-trial-of-detained-binance-exec-amid-us-lawmakers-outcry
Edited by
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Nigerian minister defends trial of detained Binance exec amid US lawmakers’ outcry

Following calls from U.S. lawmakers urging President Joe Biden to bring detained Binance exec Tigran Gambaryan back home, Nigerian Minister of Information Mohammed Idris has responded.

According to Idris’s statement, Gambaryan’s trial has adhered to all due processes at all stages.

“Prosecutors are confident in their case based on the evidence gathered,” the minister added.

The minister disclosed that the next court hearing is set for June 20, 2024.

He noted that Binance would be granted the “opportunity” to defend itself in court. Further, he labeled the charges against Binance as “severe” financial crimes. 

In contrast, U.S. lawmakers have claimed that the charges against Binance’s head of financial crime compliance are “baseless.”

The Nigerian minister’s statements are likely a response to the concerns raised by politicians in the United States. In a letter publicized on June 4, 12 U.S. politicians raised concerns about Gambaryan being “wrongfully detained” by the Nigerian government. 

Penned mostly by congress members, the letter claimed that the charges by Nigerian authorities were an effort to extort Binance. It was also alleged that Gambarayan had been denied meetings with his legal counsel without the presence of armed guards or other Nigerian authorities.

However, the Minister of Information claims that Binance had received consular access and that all standard diplomatic protocols were followed as per the rule of law.  

Further, the minister clarified that Gambaryan was considered a flight risk, as such, his bail was denied on May 17. This is because another Binance exec, Nadeem Anjarwalla, had escaped Nigerian custody in March.  He is currently the subject of an Interpol Red notice.

A Nigerian court has previously rejected Gambaryan’s defense argument that he alone shouldn’t be held responsible for Binance’s operations. However, attorneys for Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) have claimed that constitutional provisions allow the prosecution of company executives.

Gambaryan, a U.S. citizen, and Anjarwalla were arrested in February on charges of money laundering and tax evasion. Anjerwalla illegally fled to Kenya while his colleague remained in the infamous Kuje Prison.

In their letter, lawmakers have highlighted that the prison was “designed to hold ISIS combatants.” They have urged President Biden to appoint the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs to handle Gambaryan’s case.

The letter has also raised concerns over Gamabaryan’s health, stating that he had contracted malaria. Further a court order to get him proper medical care was not followed.

At the time of publication, the White House hasn’t made an official response.