Major blow to Binance from the United States
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The cryptocurrency exchange platform Binance faces a possible $4 billion settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to settle a criminal investigation into the company's business practices, according to a report by Reuters.
The investigation, which was launched in 2021, is focused on allegations that Binance violated U.S. money laundering laws by failing to properly vet its customers and prevent them from using its platform to launder money.
Apart from the Binance settlement, the company has also been accused of insider trading and market manipulation.
Binance settlement hits CEO hard
Binance founder Changpeng Zhao will likely face criminal charges in the US as part of $4BN settlement of money laundering, bank fraud and sanctions violations, it's reported.
Negotiations between the Justice Department and Binance include the possibility that the cryptocurrency exchange's founder, Changpeng Zhao, would face criminal charges in the United States.
Bloomberg News reported the proposed resolution this evening (Monday), citing people familiar with the discussions.
An agreement could resolve the probe into the company for alleged money laundering, bank fraud and sanctions violations, the report said.
The investigation is being led by the DOJ's criminal division's money laundering and asset recovery section, along with the national security division and the US attorney's office in Seattle.
How about the future of Binance?
The Binance settlement seeks to strike a balance that would allow Binance to continue operating, rather than risk a collapse that could cause negative fallout for markets and crypto holders.
Zhao has residency in the UAE which complicates any extradition attempts as the country does not have an extradition treaty with the US. This however does not prevent him from going voluntarily to face charges.
The company has sought to minimize its exposure in any Binance settlement, including pushing for a deferred prosecution agreement.
An announcement of a deal could come as soon as the end of the month, though the situation remains fluid, according to the people, who asked not to be named discussing a confidential matter.
The clock is ticking for Binance settlement
The exact timing and structure of the Binance settlement and specific charges aren't clear. However, Binance would likely be expected to pay more than $4 billion, which would be one of the largest-ever penalties in a criminal cryptocurrency case.
If Binance and the DOJ agree on Binance settlement, the Justice Department would/will file a criminal complaint against the company.
The US would not go forward with prosecution as long as the company meets prescribed conditions, which usually include paying a substantial penalty. Then a process would be set up to monitor the company's compliance.
The past is not so bright
Binance has been under the Justice Department's scanner since at least 2018. In December 2020 federal prosecutors asked the company to provide internal records about its AML checks, along with communications involving Zhao.
The DoJ probe is one of a string of legal and regulatory headaches the world's biggest crypto exchange faces in the United States.
In June, the Securities and Exchange Commission sued Binance and Zhao, accusing them of operating an “elaborate scheme to evade U.S. federal securities laws.”
Binance denied the SEC's allegations and said it would “vigorously defend” its platform.
The company has also witnessed an executive exodus and slumping market share this year.
At least a dozen executives have left the exchange in recent months, including Binance's chief strategy officer, general counsel and chief product officer.