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REVEALED: Binance Opens Up On How American Tigran Gambaryan Trained 70 EFCC Officials, Recovered $400,000 For Nigeria Before NSA Ribadu Ambushed Him

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Cryptocurrency exchange Binance has given details of how its contractor who was detained in Nigeria last month trained EFCC officials and helped the agency recover $400,000 before the National Security Adviser, Nuhu Ribadu ambushed and arrested him.

In a Wednesday statement, Binance said contractor Tigran Gambaryan has been a helpful professional in anti-money laundering and global terrorism financing measures, and his freedom should not be abridged amid the ongoing dust-up between Nigerian authorities and the crypto giant.

“Tigran Gambaryan, an American citizen, is known globally as someone fully dedicated to law enforcement,” a Binance spokesperson said. “For a decade, he served as a U.S. federal agent investigating cases involving national security, terrorism financing, identity theft, distribution of child pornography, tax evasion, and bank secrecy act violations.”

Mr Gambaryan’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 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,” Binance said.

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Mr Gambaryan was detained alongside another Binance executive during a visit to Nigeria as part of a follow-up on efforts by both entities to crack down on exploitation of the Nigerian financial system. National security adviser Nuhu Ribadu executed the controversial arrests after Nigeria blamed the crypto exchange for an alleged manipulation that purportedly induced the historic tumble in the national currency. Critics said President Bola Tinubu and his aides were only looking to excuse their confusion and overall incompetence in handling the country’s economy.

Recall that in February, Gambaryan and his colleague, Nadeem Anjarwalla from Binance Holdings Limited, were arrested in Nigeria on suspicion of involvement in money laundering activities.

According to reports, the Abuja Federal High Court is set to arraign Binance executives, Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla on Thursday.

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Gambaryan and Anjarwalla will be charged before Justice Emeka Nwite on two separate charges.

The one filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, which bothers on money laundering, has five counts.

The other charge, filed by the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, has four counts, in which they were accused of sundry tax infractions.

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Anjarwalla who escaped custody on March 22 will be arraigned before Justice Nwite in absentia.

On March 18, Justice Nwite had ordered Binance to provide the EFCC with a comprehensive data or information of all those trading on its platform from Nigeria.

The judge granted the interim order in a ruling on an ex-parte motion filed by EFCC’s lawyer, Ekele Iheanacho.

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The judge said the interim order was to enable the EFCC to investigate its claim that money laundering and terrorism financing activities were being allowed on Binance’s platform.

Among other charges, the firm and the two employees were charged last Thursday for $35,400,000 money laundering at the Federal High Court, Abuja.

However, Binance in the statement sent to Eagle Online Mail stressed that the detained employees have no part in the decision-making power of the company.

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The statement sent to Eagle Online Email partly reads, “Tigran is a strict law enforcement professional and is not part of Binance management. While he has left the official service of the U.S. government, he has remained fully committed to the role of law enforcement officer ever since, operating as a global advocate for good governance and transparent regulatory financial practices.

“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.”

According to the statement, Gambaryan was hired in 2021 to help Binance fix past compliance issues adding that as the head of Binance’s Financial Crime Compliance team, Gambaryan has been a strong advocate for the company to develop policies and build compliance capabilities that set new industry standards.

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“In 2022 and 2023, Tigran’s Financial Crime Compliance team assisted global law enforcement in freezing and seizing more than $2.2b worth of assets, including more than $285m in cooperation with United States agencies like the FBI, DOJ, DEA, and others,” the statement added.

According to Binance, Gambaryan and his team provided multiple training sessions for Nigerian crime fighters on the role of exchanges in the digital-asset ecosystem, noting that“This included a three-hour online workshop for 70 Nigerian 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.”

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission will arraign Binance Holdings Limited, Gambaryan, and Anjarwalla on Thursday on charges of $35,400,000 money laundering.

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The EFCC, having fully taken over the case from the Office of the National Security Adviser, has detained Gambaryan and obtained a court warrant to arrest and extradite Anjarwalla, who escaped custody.

On Monday last week, the Federal Government contacted INTERPOL and issued an arrest warrant for Anjarwalla’s arrest.

It was also learnt that the EFCC is now partnering with the International Criminal Police Organisation, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, the government of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, and the Kenyan government to effect the arrest and extradition of Anjarwalla.

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(Additional reporting from People Gazette and the Eagle Online)

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