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Left to Rot: Why Won’t the U.S. Government Step Up to Save Tigran Gambaryan?

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July 3, 2024
Illicit Edge
Tigran Gambaryan, a former U.S. government official and a dedicated financial crimes compliance executive at Binance, is wasting away in a Nigerian jail, his health deteriorating daily.
After several months of detention on trumped up charges, why is the U.S. government not moving mountains to bring Gambaryan home?
From Public Service to Global Financial Crimes Compliance
Tigran Gambaryan is an American patriot.  His career with the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI) was outstanding. He successfully prosecuted high-profile financial criminals and helped shape cryptocurrency regulations. At Binance, he has been dedicated to enhancing the platform’s compliance with global guidelines.
Injustice in Nigeria
The allegations against Gambaryan – supposed involvement in money laundering at Binance – are weak and unsubstantiated. His detention without due process is a blatant violation of human rights and an egregious miscarriage of justice.
The U.S. Government’s Feeble Response
Token public statements and half-hearted diplomatic efforts seem to be all the U.S. government can muster for Tigran Gambaryan.  This is wholly insufficient and raises serious questions about America’s commitment to protecting its citizens abroad, including former law enforcement and national security officials who take seriously the principle that America doesn’t leave its people behind.
On June 6th, scores of former U.S. federal prosecutors and federal agents signed an urgent letter to Secretary of State Blinken imploring him to leverage U.S. diplomatic power to secure Gambaryan’s immediate release.
A month later, he remains imprisoned in Nigeria as the bogus money laundering trial against him kicks off.
Consequences of Prolonged Detention
The ongoing detention of Tigran Gambaryan has far-reaching and severe implications:
  • Human Rights Violations: Gambaryan’s continued imprisonment without due process is an outright violation of his human rights. This is an international embarrassment for the U.S.
  • Reputational Damage: The U.S. government’s lackluster response undermines its credibility and its ability to protect its citizens and uphold international law.
  • Impact on Financial Crimes Compliance Community: This situation sends a chilling message to compliance professionals worldwide, deterring talent from engaging in crucial international regulatory work.
  • Diplomatic Strain: The failure to secure Gambaryan’s release is straining U.S.-Nigeria relations and could have long-term geopolitical repercussions.
A Call for Immediate and Decisive Action
The U.S. government must shake off its complacency and act with the urgency and assertiveness this situation demands:
  • Diplomatic Pressure: Engage in high-level diplomacy, up to and including presidential intervention, to demand Gambaryan’s immediate release.
  • Public Campaign: Launch a high-profile public awareness campaign to draw global attention to Gambaryan’s plight and sway Nigeria into action.
  • International Advocacy: Mobilize international organizations like the United Nations, International Monetary Fund, Financial Action Task Force, and Egmont Group to collectively pressure Nigeria.
  • Sanctions and Incentives: Design and prepare to impose targeted sanctions on Nigerian officials responsible for this travesty and offer incentives for Gambaryan’s swift release.

The case of Tigran Gambaryan is a test of the U.S. government’s resolve to defend its citizens and uphold international norms. His unjust detention is not just a personal tragedy but a significant breach of international law and human rights. The stakes are too high, and the consequences of inaction are too severe.
It’s time for answers and robust action from the U.S. government to bring Tigran home to his wife and two young children.

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