American Tigran Gambaryan pleads not guilty to bogus tax evasion, money laundering charges in Nigeria

 At a hearing in Abuja on Monday, American citizen Tigran Gambaryan pleaded not guilty to a series of bogus charges brought against him by the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

 The court has ordered him to be remanded at the Kuje correctional facility where Islamic State staged a breakout for some of their members in 2022.

It took the EFCC over four weeks to come up with the charges and to date, no evidence has ever been provided of how Tigran could be responsible for what he is being falsely accused of. After the court order to detain Tigran and his colleague Nadeem Anjarwalla expired on March 12th, both of them were being held arbitrarily and unlawfully by the Nigerian authorities. The Nigerian Chief Magistrate confirmed that their detention after March 12th was unlawful at a hearing on April 5th.

This is the second time Tigran has had to appear in court to face charges however, the first set of charges by the Federal Inland Revenue Service of Nigeria (FIRS) were not correctly served and so another hearing for those charges has been rescheduled for April 19th. His bail hearing for these charges has been scheduled for April 18th.

Tigran Gambaryan is not an officer of Binance, the company he is employed by, and for which he traveled to Nigeria on February 25th for meetings at the invitation of the Nigerian authorities. He and Nadeem had been invited by the Nigerian NSA, EFCC, and others to discuss issues relating to law enforcement cooperation, licensing, and compliance. 

Whilst in EFCC detention, U.S. Embassy staff were not granted access to visit him and he had very limited access to his legal team. Through the very short conversations he has been able to have with his wife, he is clearly very distressed and under immense pressure. 

Today, his wife, Yuki Gambaryan, is once again calling for his immediate release and for the US Government to take decisive action to have Tigran, who is a former US federal agent, immediately released:

“I cannot believe our nightmare has gotten worse. I am beyond heartbroken that my innocent husband is being sent to a prison that houses known terrorists and murderers. I am devastated that he is being held in increasingly worse conditions simply because he accepted an invitation for a meeting with the Nigerian government over a month ago. He is clearly a scapegoat for whatever problems they are facing and it is beyond unacceptable that this is how they are treating a completely innocent man. International businesses should be very careful of doing anything in Nigeria as their employees could suddenly be held hostage by the Nigerian government and treated like criminals for no reason.’ 

“My husband has dedicated his life to law enforcement and justice and became a world renowned expert on these topics. The Nigerian government themselves trusted and relied on him.  In fact, last year, his efforts not only ensured the retrieval of $400,000 for Nigeria but Tigran also helped to train the very same EFCC that is now holding him.’ 

“I am begging the American government to do anything to get Tigran out and I am imploring the Nigerian government to realize that they are holding a completely innocent man. They can still do the right thing and release him whilst they negotiate with the actual decision-makers at Binance for a solution to the issues which they are facing. Please, my children just want their dad home and I just want my amazing husband back.”

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