U.S. Department of Justice prosecutors is mulling filing criminal charges against global crypto exchange Binance and its executives, including CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao.
Binance Reportedly Faces Grave Charges
United States prosecutors are looking to charge the world’s largest crypto exchange by volume, Binance.
According to a report by Reuters citing four anonymous sources with knowledge of the matter, U.S. prosecutors are split over whether the gathered evidence is sufficient to press criminal charges against the crypto exchange and its executives or not.
The possible charges relate to a probe launched in 2018 and focused on Binance’s compliance with U.S. anti-money laundering laws and sanctions. This was the time when a multitude of criminals supposedly used Binance to transfer ill-gotten funds. Prosecutors at three Justice Department offices are reportedly involved, including the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team., the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS), and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington in Seattle.
The report notes that Binance’s defense attorneys held meetings with Justice Department officials in recent months, with Binance reportedly arguing that any criminal proceedings against them would have adverse implications on a cryptocurrency market already reeling from the stunning collapses of Terra and FTX. Per Reuters, the discussions included possible plea deals.
Binance Refutes Reuters Allegations
Binance immediately denied the report that U.S. prosecutors were coming after the exchange with criminal charges. In a Twitter statement, the company claimed that “Reuters has it wrong again,” and that “We don’t have any insight into the inner workings of the US Justice Department, nor would it be appropriate for us to comment if we did.”
Binance’s Global Head of Intelligence and Investigations, Tigran Gambaryan indicated that since November 2021, the exchange has responded to more than 47,000 requests from law enforcement. Gambaryan added that Binance’s security and compliance team had raised its headcount by 500% to become potentially “the strongest in the entire financial sector. Binance also became the first crypto-focused company to join the National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance (NCFTA).
Notably, Binance has had to fight back against two Reuters exposés that leveled damaging allegations at Binance over the past year. The most recent investigative piece accused the platform of processing nearly $2.4 billion worth of stolen funds between 2017 and 2021.
Since launching in 2017, Binance has seen explosive growth as demand for cryptocurrencies has soared. Last year, it faced countless compliance warnings from numerous jurisdictions, coming under fire for allegedly serving customers without acquiring the requisite licenses and failing to comply with anti-money laundering checks. Nonetheless, the exchange has been able to quash the compliance barriers in many of those countries except the United States.