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Detained Binance Executive Tigran Gambaryan Collapses During Money Laundering Trial in Nigeria

Hassan Shittu
Last updated: | 2 min read
Binance Nigeria

In a dramatic turn of events, Tigran Gambaryan, a detained executive of cryptocurrency exchange Binance, collapsed in court due to alleged ill health during his ongoing money laundering trial on May 23, as reported by Vanguard.

The incident occurred at the Federal High Court in Abuja shortly after the case was called for continuation before Justice Emeka Nwite.

Gambaryan, a U.S. citizen, and British-Kenyan national Nadeem Anjarwalla face charges of laundering over $35 million and engaging in specialized financial activities without a license. Both executives have pleaded not guilty.

Detained Binance Executive Slumped During Trial


The courtroom drama unfolded when Gambaryan, Binance’s head of financial crimes compliance, did not immediately step forward to the dock when the case was called. Seated in the back row, he was assisted by his lawyer towards the dock but collapsed en route and had to be sat in the front row.

Gambaryan’s lawyer informed the court of his client’s deteriorating health and the submission of a written application notifying the court of his condition.

“My lord, the case may not certainly proceed today,” Mordi stated, explaining that Gambaryan had been indisposed and required medical attention.

Since February, Gambaryan’s health issues have reportedly worsened. A letter presented to Judge Emeka Nwite highlighted that Gambaryan had broken down and received intravenous treatment for malaria the previous day. Consequently, he was also absent from a tax evasion trial held the day before.

Judge Nwite ruled that Gambaryan should receive treatment at the hospital recommended by his lawyer or another designated by prison authorities. The trial has been adjourned to June 20 and 21 to allow Gambaryan’s medical treatment.

The case has attracted considerable attention, especially given Nigeria’s ongoing economic challenges. The country has accused Binance of contributing to its currency woes, as Binance and other cryptocurrency platforms have become famous for trading the Nigerian naira amid severe dollar shortages and a plummeting currency.

Throughout the proceedings, Gambaryan was visibly weak, leaning on the armrest of his seat.

Tax Evasion Charges Against Binance


The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) has filed tax evasion charges against Binance Holdings Limited and Gambaryan. Due to his absence, however, the trial could not proceed on Wednesday and has now been moved to June 14.

Gambaryan, reportedly held at Kuje Prison, did not appear for his scheduled arraignment, confusing the lawyers. Justice Emeka Nwite, overseeing the case, had previously denied Gambaryan’s bail application due to new money laundering charges filed by the EFCC and deemed him a flight risk. The prosecution and defense argued over the failure to ensure Gambaryan’s presence, leading to the adjournment.

Gambaryan’s absence from the arraignment session highlighted procedural issues, as his lawyer argued that the prosecution should have ensured his presence given his federal custody status.

Anjarwalla, who escaped custody in March, is still involved in the case but has not been officially marked as “at large,” which could complicate proceedings since Nigerian law requires all parties to be served for the case to move forward.