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Binance, the world's largest crypto exchange, probed by CFTC over concerns it allowed US residents to trade derivatives

Mar 12, 2021, 22:47 IST
Business Insider
Binance CEO Changpeng ZhaoANDREY RUDAKOV/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Cryptocurrency exchange Binance Holdings is being investigated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) over concerns that it permitted US residents to trade derivatives, violating the agency's regulations, Bloomberg first reported on Friday.

Binance, the world's largest crypto exchange, is not registered with the CTFC to trade those types of securities. The agency counts cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin to be commodities and therefore oversees its futures and other derivatives.

The CTFC has yet to determine whether the cryptocurrency exchange did allow US residents to buy and sell derivatives. Thus far, Binance has not been accused of misconduct.

Binance, which was founded in China and has an office in Singapore, says it currently does not have a headquarters. For now, US residents are unable to access its website.

"We have always blocked US access, but users do find intelligent ways to get around our block sometimes and we just have to be smarter about the way we block," company co-founder Changpeng Zhao told Bloomberg in November.


Zhao has, in the past, maintained that Binance complies with US laws. In 2019, Binance partnered with BAM Trading Services, which launched Binance.us in San Francisco. Binance licenses its matching engine and wallet technologies to Binance.us.

Still, many users find a workaround, especially amid the boom in bitcoin which has flirted with record highs on Thursday, breaching the $1 trillion market capitalization threshold. The founder told Bloomberg in a February television interview that his platform is attracting more than 300,000 user registrations a day, far surpassing its previous 2017 peak.

The heightened scrutiny against Binance and other crypto-related firms comes after lawmakers and watchdogs have raised their concerns about the rapidly evolving asset.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has publicly criticized bitcoin numerous times as well as ECB president Christine Lagarde.

In November last year, CFTC filed criminal charges accusing founders and executives of the BitMEX, a major cryptocurrency derivatives exchange of not taking sufficient steps to prevent money laundering.

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