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Binance Is Having an Odd Time

Ukraine seizes $19,500 from crypto wallet dedicated to supporting Russian forces

Binance Is Having an Odd Time

Binance is having a weird moment, perhaps most clearly illustrated by the fact that a national government detained two of its executives for a month now – and one is only free because he seemingly escaped custody.

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Tax evasion

The narrative

Nigeria and the Philippines have recently cracked down on Binance in extremely different ways, while what used to be Binance in Russia is shutting down.

Why it matters

Binance has been the poster child as the target of governments’ ire against the crypto industry. Actions like last year’s joint U.S. Department of Justice, Treasury Department and Commodity Futures Trading Commission settlement against Binance support the thesis that Binance hasn’t played within regulatory guidelines in the past. And then there’s whatever is going on in Nigeria.

Breaking it down

It’s been a bit of a weird time for Binance. Two executives had been detained by a country that appears to be grasping for reasons to keep them there (one has since escaped, possibly with a fake passport). In the meantime, a handful of other countries have cracked down on the exchange.

Over the weekend, the operator of what used to be Binance’s Russian platform, CommEx, announced it would start shutting down services in the country over the next several weeks.

Meanwhile, the Philippines’ Securities and Exchange Commission published an order announcing it would block Binance in the nation, saying it “poses a threat to the security of the funds of investing Filipinos.” This follows a warning from the regulator last November.

And, of course, there’s Nigeria, which a month ago detained two Binance executives – Tigran Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla – without announcing any charges against either individual. Gambaryan is a former U.S. Internal Revenue Service investigator who heads financial crimes enforcement compliance at Binance, while Anjarwalla is a dual national of the U.K. and Kenya. Anjarwalla has since escaped under odd circumstances, while Gambaryan is still detained.

The Record published a comprehensive summary of the situation earlier on Tuesday.

The U.S. and U.K. governments are aware of the detentions, statements from their respective agencies said in statements to CoinDesk reporters.

A U.S. State Department spokesperson told CoinDesk the entity was “aware of reports of the detention of a U.S. citizen in Abuja, Nigeria,” while a spokesperson for the U.K.’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office said, “We are supporting a British man detained in Nigeria and are in contact with the local authorities.”

A spokesperson for the Kenyan government’s counterpart could not immediately be reached. A White House spokesperson didn’t return requests for comment.

The executives were detained ostensibly because the government blamed Binance for its ongoing currency crisis. According to The Wall Street Journal, which was the first outlet to identify the executives, the two were initially not charged with any crimes. After Anjarwalla’s reported escape, Nigeria charged Binance, Gambaryan and Anjarwalla with tax evasion – four weeks after first confiscating the executives’ passports and placing them under house arrest.

“When a U.S. citizen is detained overseas, the Department works to provide all appropriate assistance,” the U.S. State Department spokesperson said. “Due to privacy considerations, we have no further comment.”

A spokesperson for Yuki Gambaryan and Elahe Anjarwalla, Tigran and Nadeem’s wives, told CoinDesk earlier this month that they were not yet aware of any specific actions taken by the various governments.

“They have received a lot of information from the families and we know that they’ve been in touch and they are aware of what is happening,” they said. “But as far as we know, with regards to specific actions that they have taken with their Nigerian counterparts, we’re not aware of anything up to now.”