Binance Executive Tigran Gambaryan Collapses in Nigerian Court During Money Laundering Trial

Tigran Gambaryan, a Binance executive currently detained in Nigeria, collapsed in the Federal High Court in Abuja during his trial for alleged foreign exchange violations and money laundering offenses brought against him by the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

According to local media, Gambaryan’s legal representative, Mark Mordi, informed the court on May 22 that his client had been unwell since the previous trial date and continued to experience health problems. Gambaryan previously failed to appear in court on the same day for a separate arraignment on tax evasion charges brought by the Nigerian Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) but attended the money laundering trial.

During the court proceedings, Gambaryan failed to respond when the case was called and remained seated in the back row. Judge Emeka Nwite, noticing his absence, asked for clarification, prompting Gambaryan’s defense lawyer to assist him to the dock. However, Gambaryan suddenly collapsed and required assistance to be seated in a front-row seat. Mordi explained that Gambaryan’s health issues necessitated an adjournment for medical treatment, arguing that continuing the trial under such circumstances was untenable. The court subsequently set June 20 and 21 for cross-examination and the trial.

Gambaryan’s request for bail was previously denied on May 16, with the EFCC citing concerns that he posed a flight risk if released from the Kuje Correctional Centre, where he is currently detained. He was transferred to the Kuje Correctional Centre in April 2024 after pleading not guilty to the money laundering charges.

In March, the FIRS filed tax evasion charges against Binance and its executives, including Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla. The charges included failure to register with the FIRS, failure to pay company income tax, failure to pay value-added tax, and facilitating tax evasion. The Nigerian government has accused the cryptocurrency exchange of influencing foreign exchange rates and called for stricter oversight of crypto trading platforms.

Binance CEO Richard Teng recently claimed that Nigerian officials attempted to coerce Binance representatives into a secret settlement paid in cryptocurrency during meetings in early 2024. On March 5, Binance announced it would cease all Nigerian naira transactions, effectively exiting the market. The company also delisted all Nigeria naira trading pairs from its peer-to-peer trading platform in late February.