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American Tigran Gambaryan trained 70 EFCC officials, recovered $400,000 for Nigeria before NSA Ribadu ambushed him – Binance

American Tigran Gambaryan trained 70 EFCC officials, recovered $400,000 for Nigeria before NSA Ribadu ambushed him - Binance %Post Title

Cryptocurrency exchange Binance has demanded the immediate release of its contractor who was detained in Nigeria last month.

In a Wednesday morning statement to Peoples Gazette, 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.

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.

Economists directly connected the protracted currency crisis with the raging inflation that has plunged millions further into poverty since Mr Tinubu assumed office in May 2023.

As controversy flared over the arrests of Binance officials, the government announced plans to charge Mr Gambaryan to court, fueling scepticism among independent observers that the American may not get justice since Nigeria’s judiciary has no reputation for independence.

Ahead of the court appearance Thursday, Binance again called for Mr Gambaryan’s release, even while admitting his status as an independent contractor.

The company enumerated Mr Gambaryan’s vast exploits in tackling financial crimes, saying he did not deserve his current fate in the hands of Nigerian agents. His Binance colleague Najeem Anjarwalla fled his detention facility in Abuja under unclear circumstances last month.

“As part of the elite cyber investigations team in the U.S. Treasury Department’s IRS Criminal Investigations (IRS-CI) unit, Tigran led several multi-billion dollar investigations, including the Silk Road corruption investigations, BTC-e bitcoin exchange, and the Mt. Gox hack.

“He also played a pivotal role in probing Alphabay, Wall Street Marketplace, Welcome2Video, and the high-profile “VIP” Twitter hack, working alongside the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the United States Secret Service. Tigran later assumed the role of the IRS-CI representative at the National Cyber Investigative Joint Task Force (NCIJTF), focusing on national security and terrorism financing.

“Tigran is so well known as the world’s preeminent cyber crimes investigator that a book, Tracer’s in the Dark, was written about his efforts to bring down some of history’s most notorious cyber criminals.

“Given this background, Tigran was hired in 2021 to help Binance fix past compliance issues. As the head of Binance’s Financial Crime Compliance (FCC) team, he has been a strong advocate for Binance to develop policies and build compliance capabilities that set new industry standards. 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.

“In the past several years, he, along with his FCC team, responded to more than 600 information requests coming from Nigerian law enforcement agencies or related to investigations pertinent to Nigeria. The information provided helped tackle crimes ranging from scams and fraud to money laundering, blackmail, kidnapping, and extortion, leading to multiple asset freezes and seizures, totalling more than $400,000 USD.

“Tigran is a strict law enforcement professional and is not part of Binance management. While he has left 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,” the crypto firm said.

Mr Anjarwalla and Mr Gambaryan were charged in absentia. Both officials face banking services violation claims that, if convicted, could see them spend years in the Nigerian prison.

Nigeria did not disclose the steepness of its existing ties to Binance, including the training received by its anti-graft detectives from the firm’s professionals. Spokespersons for the Nigerian national security office and the anti-graft EFCC did not immediately return requests seeking comments on Binance’s disclosures and demands.

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