Notably, Florida’s financial watchdog suspended Binance’s local license swiftly. The Office of Financial Regulation acted after Changpeng Zhao (CZ), Binance’s former CEO, admitted to anti-money laundering violations.
Zhao’s plea landed one week before the state’s emergency order. Now, Florida bans the company from conducting money transmission activities.
In the meantime, Alaska’s banking division denied Binance.US a license renewal. The Alaska Division of Banking and Securities made the decision in early January 2024. Binance.US’s legal status in other states stands unstable. Something similar is observed for the cryptocurrency titan in other countries.
Changpeng Zhao plead guilty on the US
Zhao pleaded guilty to breaching U.S. Bank Secrecy Act regulations in November 2023. A U.S. federal court approved his guilty plea in December. As a consequence, Zhao relinquished control over Binance.US. He also signed over voting rights to a proxy, aiming to distance himself from the firm.
In response to these events, Binance.US emphasized its operational continuity. The exchange vowed uninterrupted services to Americans post-Zhao’s legal troubles. On November 28, they assured customers of maintaining usual business activities.
On the other hand, the Binance.US secured permissions to operate in three other states. Arkansas, Illinois, and South Dakota reached agreements allowing the platform’s continued service. These deals hinge on the permanent transfer of Zhao’s voting rights within Binance.US.
Post-guilty plea, Zhao moved to secure his $4.5 billion Binance.US share. He proposed the stake as collateral for freedom to travel to his UAE home. However, Judge Richard Jones denied the request, keeping Zhao in the U.S. Zhao now awaits sentencing set for late February 2024, with a potential 18-month prison term.
Regulatory challenges for Binance and the whole crypto industry
Moreover, these developments reflect heightened scrutiny over the crypto industry. They highlight the legal complexities facing cryptocurrency businesses operating in the U.S.
Binance.US’s future in Florida and Alaska appears dim after regulators’ strict actions. Other states continue to ponder their stance on the exchange’s operations. The decision in these two states symbolizes growing regulatory enforcement upon crypto-related businesses.
As the legal landscape shifts, the industry watches closely. Zhao’s case is a cautionary tale for others in the digital currency sector. Compliance with anti-money laundering laws remains a paramount concern for regulatory agencies.
Interestingly, Binance recently started a more compliant approach to its operations. For example, the dominating exchange threatened to remove privacy cryptocurrencies like Monero (XMR), following a global trend to crack down on financial privacy.
Meanwhile, affected Binance.US users in Florida and Alaska must seek alternative platforms. The crypto community awaits further developments regarding Binance.US and its ability to navigate the U.S. regulatory environment.