Binance claims Nigerian officials sought $150 million bribe

A Nigerian court has ruled that Tigran Gambaryan, a Binance executive detained on charges of tax evasion and money laundering, can stand trial on behalf of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange.

The judge denied the American national bail, citing concerns that Gambaryan might abscond. “The fact that the passport of the defendant is with the complainant does not guarantee that he will remain in Nigeria because the defendant is not only an American citizen but also an Armenian citizen by birth,” local reports quoted the judge as saying.

Gambaryan, who has been held in Nigeria for more than two months, has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

The former U.S. tax agent, now serving as the chief compliance officer of Binance, was arrested by Nigerian authorities on February 28 alongside his colleague Nadeem Anjarwalla, upon their arrival in the country. Following their arrest, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) accused Binance of laundering more than $35 million through its platform.

In a separate suit, Nigeria’s tax authority alleged that the company had not registered for remittance purposes in Nigeria and was therefore guilty of tax evasion. The government is also seeking data on prominent Binance users in the country.

Anjarwalla, a British-Kenyan national, escaped from custody in Abuja in March and has reportedly been found in Kenya, where he is on the verge of being extradited to Nigeria.

Binance officials claimed that Nigerian authorities requested a bribe of $150 million in crypto funds during an earlier visit in January. Nigerian politicians have dismissed this allegation as “an attempt to distract and draw attention away from the serious allegations of criminality against it” and demanded an apology. They also accused the company of using “sophisticated criminality” to aid Anjarwalla’s escape.

Binance has a massive user base in Nigeria, one of Africa’s largest economies. The platform is particularly popular among young people in urban areas who use it to bypass conventional market platforms, especially as the naira’s value frequently fluctuates against the dollar. Nigerian officials argue that trading on Binance has contributed to the naira’s instability.