In a concerning development, two senior executives from leading cryptocurrency exchange Binance have been detained by Nigerian authorities for over two weeks. Tigran Gambaryan, who heads Binance’s criminal investigations team, and Nadeem Anjarwalla, the company’s regional manager for Africa, were stripped of their passports and confined to government property in Abuja after arriving on February 26th.

The Ordeal Began With a Meeting on Nigeria’s Binance Ban

Gambaryan and Anjarwalla had traveled to Nigeria’s capital to discuss the government’s recent order for telecoms to block access to Binance and other crypto exchanges. Authorities cited the devaluation of the national currency, the naira, and alleged facilitation of “illicit fund flows” as reasons for the crackdown.

However, after an initial meeting, the two executives were taken to hotels and then forcibly moved to a government guesthouse by Nigeria’s National Security Agency, where they remain detained.

Families Desperately Seeking Answers

The families of the detained Binance staff are understandably distraught over the lack of clarity surrounding the situation. Gambaryan’s wife expressed anguish over not knowing her husband’s condition or when he may return home.

Despite visits from U.S. and U.K. officials, the executives have been unable to communicate privately due to the constant presence of government guards. There are also reports that Anjarwalla briefly fell ill, possibly with malaria, requiring hospitalization before being returned to detainment.

Binance Cooperating But Mum on Accusations

While declining to reveal the Nigerian government’s specific accusations, a Binance spokesperson stated the company is “working collaboratively” to secure the executives’ release. They praised Gambaryan and Anjarwalla’s professionalism while hoping for a swift resolution.

The irony is that Gambaryan, a former U.S. federal agent lauded for his crypto investigations, was brought on to improve Binance’s regulatory compliance.

Worsening Regulatory Crisis for Binance in Nigeria

The detainments come as Binance has been forced to discontinue Nigerian naira trading and withdrawals after March 8th amid the government’s broader crackdown aimed at stabilizing the currency.

Nigeria has also hit Binance with a staggering $10 billion fine as part of its scrutiny of the platform’s operations in the country.

As the situation develops, the crypto world awaits answers on the detained executives’ status and the future of Binance’s access to Africa’s largest economy and cryptocurrency market.

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