US SEC sues Binance and CEO Changpeng Zhao

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Binance
Binance

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has sued Binance and its CEO Changpeng Zhao, alleging a host of securities law violations and accusing the world’s largest crypto exchange of engaging in an “extensive web of deception”.

Among other things, the SEC alleges that, while Zhao and Binance publicly claimed that US customers were restricted from transacting on the firm’s international exchange, in reality they “subverted their own controls” to skirt this rule.

Further, the SEC alleges that, while Zhao and Binance publicly claimed that the company’s US exchange was created as a separate, independent trading platform for US investors, they secretly controlled Binance.US operations behind the scenes.

According to the SEC, Zhao and Binance have been able to commingle customer assets or divert customer assets as they please, including to an entity Zhao owned and controlled called Sigma Chain.

SEC chair Gary Gensler says: “Through thirteen charges, we allege that Zhao and Binance entities engaged in an extensive web of deception, conflicts of interest, lack of disclosure, and calculated evasion of the law.

“As alleged, Zhao and Binance misled investors about their risk controls and corrupted trading volumes while actively concealing who was operating the platform, the manipulative trading of its affiliated market maker, and even where and with whom investor funds and crypto assets were custodied.

“They attempted to evade US securities laws by announcing sham controls that they disregarded behind the scenes so that they could keep high-value US customers on their platforms.”

In a blog, Binance says it is “disappointed” with the SEC complaint and that it intends to “defend our platform vigorously”.

“Unfortunately,” it adds “the SEC’s refusal to productively engage with us is just another example of the Commission’s misguided and conscious refusal to provide much-needed clarity and guidance to the digital asset industry”.

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