The world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, was sued by the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) on Monday for operating what the regulator alleged were an “illegal” exchange and a “sham” compliance program.
According to the BBC, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) sued the firm for cultivating US business while failing to properly register with authorities.
It accused Binance of violating numerous US financial laws, including money-laundering rules, but the cryptocurrency firm defended its practices.
It stated that it had made “significant investments” to ensure that no US users were active on the platform, including blocking users who identified themselves as American citizens or residents or who had a US mobile number.
“This filing is unexpected and disappointing, as we have been working collaboratively with the CFTC for more than two years. “Nevertheless, we intend to continue to collaborate with regulators in the US and around the world,” Binance said.
“The best path forward is to protect our users and to collaborate with regulators to develop a clear, thoughtful regulatory regime.”
Binance, founded in 2017, has become the world’s largest centralized exchange for digital assets, claiming more than 100 million users globally.
It is led by Chinese-born Canadian billionaire Changpeng Zhao, who was also named in the complaint.
The CFTC also said Binance had been active in the US since 2019 but had never properly registered with the government or complied with relevant US laws, using an “intentionally opaque” global corporate structure in a bid to escape oversight.
And over the years, Binance did not require its customers to offer any identity verification information before trading on the platform, as the CFTC alleged in the civil lawsuit filed in federal court in Illinois.
In 2021, the firm announced it was tightening its rules. But at the same time, the CFTC said it advised US-based customers on how to evade those controls using virtual private networks (VPNs) and shell companies.
The firm evaded the rules “to maximize corporate profits,” the CFTC said.
It asked the US court for restitution and fines, as well as permanent trading and registration bans.
CFTC chairman Rostin Behnam said the government filed the case to protect American investors, and it should serve as a broader caution to those working in the crypto sector.
“For years, Binance knew they were violating CFTC rules, working actively to both keep the money flowing and avoid compliance.” “This should be a warning that the CFTC will not tolerate wilful avoidance of US law,” Behnam said.