Tigran Gambrayan, an American citizen and former US federal agent, has been identified as one of two Binance executives detained by the Nigerian government since February 26, per a report from Wired. The other executive is Nadeem Anjarwalla, Binance’s Kenya-based regional manager for Africa.

Gambrayan, who leads the Binance criminal investigations team, and his colleague arrived in Nigeria one week after telecom companies were told to block the websites of several crypto exchanges. According to several reports, they were arrested on their arrival in Abuja, with their passports seized. The government has shared very little about their arrests, and it is unclear if they have or will be charged in court.

Their arrests are in connection with a push by the Nigerian government to halt speculation on forex trading, following volatility in the price of the naira. After a decision to remove artificial controls, the naira’s plunge only worsened.

Regulators have historically blamed those plunges on speculators. At one point, it blamed Abokifx, a website that published FX rates.

The Central Bank has also pointed fingers at Bureau de Change operators and the banks. Several policy changes by Olayemi Cardoso, the CBN chief appointed last year, have purportedly aimed to stop such speculation.

Of these speculators, none has quite been treated like Binance. In a press briefing after a February monetary policy meeting, Cardoso claimed $26 billion of suspicious monies had passed through Binance.

It provided a justification for the government to make the arrests.

Several reports claimed the government asked for data on Binance users, while claims of a $10 billion fine were later denied.

The global crypto exchange has responded by suspending all trades in naira but has not publicly responded to the arrests otherwise.

“There’s no definite answer for anything: how’s he’s doing, what’s going to happen to him, when he’s coming back,” Wired quotes Gambaryan’s wife, Yuki Gambaryan, as saying.

Olumuyiwa Olowogboyega Newsroom Editor

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