Binance and its founder sued by CFTC
Agency claims the crypto exchange and founder Changpeng 'CZ' Zhao skirted US law
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has sued major cryptocurrency exchange Binance along with executives, including founder and CEO Changpeng "CZ" Zhao, accusing the defendants of willfully skirting U.S. law.
In a civil complaint filed Monday, the CFTC alleges Binance and Zhao violated numerous federal regulations – including operating an illegal digital assets derivatives exchange – and also charges the exchange's former chief compliance officer, Samual Lim, with aiding and abetting in the alleged violations.
According to the regulators, Binance, under Zhao's direction, instructed employees and customers to "circumvent compliance controls," failed to implement required procedures for preventing and flagging terrorist financing and money laundering, and operated as a contract or market execution facility without registering with the CFTC.
Binance, the world's largest crypto exchange, is also accused of instructing its U.S.-based VIP customers to evade compliance controls after restricting U.S. customers from trading on the platform.
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"Defendants’ alleged willful evasion of U.S. law is at the core of the Commission’s complaint against Binance," said Gretchen Lowe, CFTC’s Enforcement Division principal deputy director and chief counsel. "The defendants’ own emails and chats reflect that Binance’s compliance efforts have been a sham and Binance deliberately chose – over and over – to place profits over following the law."
The CFTC is seeking civil monetary penalties, permanent trading and registration bans, and a permanent injunction against further regulatory violations in its action against the crypto platform.
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Binance did not immediately respond to FOX Business' request for comment.
The crypto giant and the industry at large have fallen under greater scrutiny from regulators following the collapse of Binance's one-time chief rival, FTX, in November.
The CFTC is not the only federal agency that has Binance under the microscope.
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The Wall Street Journal reported late last year that long before FTX's downfall, the U.S. Department of Justice was investigating whether Binance had enabled money laundering, and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had asked Binance's U.S. affiliate for information on its operations.