Binance CEO files defamation suit against Bloomberg's Hong Kong publisher following 'Ponzi scheme' headline

Binance CEO files defamation suit against Bloomberg's Hong Kong publisher following 'Ponzi scheme' headline
Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance.REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
  • Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao is suing its Hong Kong publishing partner for defamation.
  • The suit comes after a local headline implied the crypto exchange was a "Ponzi scheme."

Binance's CEO filed a defamation suit on Monday against Bloomberg Businessweek's Hong Kong publishing partner Modern Media, which ran a local headline that translated to "Zhao Changpeng's Ponzi Scheme."

For Bloomberg Businessweek's June 23 profile of Zhao, Modern Media ran with the "Ponzi Scheme" headline, while the original English-language edition went with "Can Crypto's Richest Man Stand the Cold?".

"Most damningly, the Translated Article's Title was splashed across a photograph of Zhao, which had been made the cover page of the Chinese edition of Bloomberg Businessweek's 250th issue. No evidence was put forth to even remotely substantiate the allegation that Zhao was involved in a Ponzi scheme," the motion Zhao filed said.

He also filed a motion of discovery against Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Inc., claiming the English version of the article published on Bloomberg Businessweek included misleading allegations. In particular, the motion points to certain passages that characterize the crypto exchange as "sketchy" and a quote from an anonymous trader who called the exchange "a massive shitcoin casino."

"We understand that Binance has filed a lawsuit against Modern Media, a company based in China that publishes a Chinese language edition of Bloomberg Businessweek and that published a translated version of a Businessweek story that first ran on June 23. The lawsuit refers to a headline that was not published in the original English language version of the story," a Bloomberg spokesperson told Insider.


Efforts to contact Modern Media were unsuccessful.

Shortly after the article was published, Zhao shared the article on his Twitter account and alleged that Bloomberg "[switched] the story last minute" to a negative portrayal.

He also requested Modern Media retract the article and filed a restraining order to prevent further distribution, CoinDesk reported, adding that Modern Media changed the "Ponzi scheme" headline and pulled physical copies of the print issue.

It isn't the first time Zhao has taken offense over a negative portrayal. Last year, Binance filed a similar defamation suit against Forbes and in 2019 but dropped it later. Zhao also sued the venture capital firm Sequoia for reputational damages.