Tech

Binance requests release of Nigeria-held executive

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Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, recently issued a statement regarding Tigran Gambaryan, a key member of its Financial Crime Compliance (FCC) team, as the company engages in discussions with Nigerian government officials. The statement follows Nigerian authorities arresting two of its company officials.

The statement mentions that Gambaryan’s team has responded to hundreds of information requests from Nigerian law enforcement agencies or related to investigations pertinent to the country. This collaboration has resulted in asset freezes and seizures, targeting multiple crimes. The team also purportedly provided training to local authorities:

Tigran’s team also provided multiple training sessions for Nigerian crime fighters on the role of exchanges in the digital-asset ecosystem. This included a three-hour online workshop for 70 Nigerian [Economic and Financial Crimes Commission] EFCC officials in mid-2023 and, late last year, two full-day sessions for EFCC officials in Abuja and Lagos, with more than 30 investigators attending each of them.

No decisional power, no responsibility

Binance clarifies that Gambaryan, while holding a critical role in compliance, is not part of the company’s management and does not possess decision-making power:

Tigran is a strict law enforcement professional and is not part of Binance management. […] Binance respectfully requests that Tigran Gambaryan, who has no decision-making power in the company, is not held responsible while current discussions are ongoing between Binance and Nigerian government officials.

The statement also focuses on Gambaryan’s extensive experience in law enforcement and his purported efforts to assist global authorities in combating financial crimes. According to the statement, Gambaryan, a U.S. citizen, has a decade-long history as a Federal Agent, investigating a wide range of cases, including those related to national security, terrorism financing, identity theft, child pornography distribution, tax evasion, and bank secrecy act violations.

During his time with the U.S. Treasury Department’s IRS Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI) unit, he led several notable investigations and collaborated with the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the United States Secret Service on various cases.

In 2021, Gambaryan joined Binance to head the exchange’s FCC team, with the goal of addressing past compliance issues and developing robust policies and compliance capabilities. The statement notes that between 2022 and 2023, Gambaryan’s team assisted global law enforcement in freezing and seizing a significant amount of assets, including $285M in cooperation with U.S. agencies.

The announcement follows Binance discontinuing all its services in Nigeria due to a legal dispute.

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