Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, and Changpeng Zhao (CZ), the company’s former chief executive officer, have been ordered to pay a hefty financial penalty according to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. A significant enforcement action that was begun by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has been brought to a successful conclusion by this ruling.
The decision that was granted by the court on December 18, 2023, represents the completion of an enforcement process that had begun in November. The investigation conducted by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) revealed that Binance and CZ aggressively targeted clients from the United States, especially quantitative trading companies, for digital asset derivative trades on the Binance platform. Binance’s own Terms of Service and US legislation were both violated by this behavior, which was a blatant violation of both. Based on the findings of the investigation, it was discovered that Binance, under the supervision of CZ, had let at least two prime brokers to create sub-accounts that circumvented the Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements of the platform. This enabled clients from the United States to trade directly on the platform. With regard to the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) rules, the court determined that Zhao and Binance were aware of the legal obligations that were in place in the United States but decided to disregard them.
As part of the settlement, Binance and CZ have reached an agreement to implement more stringent policies and procedures. This involves the construction of a formal corporate governance structure, the deletion of existing sub-accounts that circumvented compliance measures, and the adoption of stringent Know Your Customer (KYC) onboarding processes for all clients. A Compliance Committee, an Audit Committee, and a Board of Directors that includes individuals who are not affiliated with the organization are anticipated to be included in this structure. Furthermore, Zhao and Binance are obligated to attest the presence of these upgraded compliance measures, as well as their use and efficacy, as part of the settlement.
Changpeng Zhao is subject to legal implications in addition to the financial fines that he is faced with. As part of his agreement to plead guilty to breaking federal anti-money laundering rules, he has acknowledged that he would stand down from his position as CEO of Binance. It is anticipated that Zhao will continue to reside in the United States until his sentencing on February 23, 2024, and he may impose a sentence of up to 18 months in jail. Following Zhao’s decision to step down from his position as CEO of Binance, Richard Teng, who had previously served as Binance’s global head of regional markets, has been nominated to the position.
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