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Binance executives remain in detention after Nigeria court appearance, families say

FILE PHOTO: Illustration shows smartphone with displayed Binance logo

LAGOS (Reuters) - Two executives from Binance, the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange, will remain in detention for at least two more weeks in Nigeria after appearing in court for the first time on Wednesday and even though they have not been charged with a crime, their families said.

Tigran Gambaryan, a U.S. citizen and Binance's head of financial crime compliance, and Nadeem Anjarwalla, a British-Kenyan who is Binance's regional manager for Africa, flew to Nigeria following the country's decision to ban several cryptocurrency trading websites and were detained on arrival on Feb. 26.

On Tuesday, the two men appeared in a Federal High Court in the capital Abuja. The Court and lawyers for Gambaryan and Anjarwalla declined to comment.

Lawyers from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) want the court to grant a new detention order, after the initial one expired on March 12. The Binance executives are opposing this.

The judge did not make a ruling on EFCC's request.

"At the court hearing in Abuja today, which was attended by Tigran and Nadeem, the court ruled that after hearing arguments from both parties, they would resume the session on April 5th," the families of the two executives said in a statement.

An EFCC spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.

Gambaryan and Anjarwalla were caught up in a crackdown following a period during which several cryptocurrency websites emerged as platforms of choice for trading the Nigerian currency, as the country battles chronic dollar shortages.

Binance did not immediately respond to emailed questions.

The company announced early this month that it was stopping all transactions and trading in Nigeria's naira currency after March 8.

(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe in Lagos, additional reporting by Camillus Eboh in Abuja, Editing by Alexandra Hudson)