The CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Binance on Tuesday accused Nigeria of setting a dangerous precedent after its executives were invited to the African country and then detained as part of a crackdown on crypto.

Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, and two of its executives are facing separate tax evasion and money laundering charges, which the company is contesting.

CEO Richard Teng said in a statement that it’s time to speak out against the detention of Tigran Gambarian, a US citizen and Binance’s head of financial crime compliance.

The other executive, Nadeem Anjaruala, a British-Kenyan who is regional manager for Africa, fled Nigeria in March.

Teng said Binance executives first held meetings with Nigerian authorities in the country in January.

In a follow-up meeting on February 26, authorities said Binance-related issues were of national security and demanded the exchange remove the naira from its platform and provide details at a “granular level” for all Nigerian users, he said.

Gambarian and Anjarvala were subsequently detained.

“Inviting a company’s mid-level employees to joint policy meetings only to retain them has set a dangerous new precedent for all companies around the world,” Teng said in his strongest comments since the case began in February.

Gambarian was detained in Nigeria for more than two months “on false grounds,” Teng said.

Binance announced in early March that it was suspending all naira transactions and trading.

“Our hope when we took this drastic step was that our colleagues would be exonerated and Binance would be able to continue working with the Nigerian government to resolve any additional concerns.” Unfortunately, that didn’t happen,” Ten said.

He said Gambarian should be allowed to go home until Binance and the Nigerian authorities resolve all issues.

“We will continue to work with the Federal Inland Revenue Service of Nigeria (FIRS) to resolve potential historical tax liabilities,” he said.

© Thomson Reuters 2024

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