Binance drama deepens as Malaysia alleges illegal operations

by BLOOMBERG

THE global regulatory crackdown on the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume has deepened, with Malaysia issuing enforcement actions for alleged illegal operations. 

Binance Holdings Ltd, its CEO Changpeng Zhao and three affiliates have been ordered to disable Binance. com and mobile applications in the country within 14 business days from July 26, according to a statement last Friday from the Securities Commission Malaysia. They should also stop media and marketing activities to Malaysia’s consumers and immediately restrict the nation’s investors from accessing Binance’s Telegram group. 

Zhao has “been specifically ordered to ensure that the above directives are carried out,” the statement said. 

A Binance representative told Bloomberg News that the company is aware of the notice, while adding that Binance.com does not operate out of Malaysia. 

“Binance takes a collaborative approach in working with regulators in navigating this emerging industry and we take our compliance obligations very seriously,” the representative said in an email. 

Separately, the company announced last Friday that it plans to wind down its futures and derivatives products offerings in Germany, Italy and the Netherlands. Users from those countries can no longer open accounts for such products. At one point, the firm will give people in those countries 90 days to close open positions, it said. 

This week, the company told reporters that it’s changing its structure from a nebulous one with no headquarters that has helped it grow so quickly, to one with regional bases that will be focused on compliance and aim for licences in many countries. But that appears not to have stopped the onslaught from regulators. 

India’s anti-money laundering agency is examining if Binance had a role to play in an ongoing investigation involving betting apps, Bloomberg News reported earlier last Friday, citing people with knowledge of the matter. That’s on top of probes from several US agencies as well as actions or investigations from the likes of the UK, Thailand and Italy. 

“An underappreciated aspect of the most recent crypto bull market is that it has brought a generation of investors who see regulatory compliance as a must-have,” Gary Worrall, CEO of Crypto Facilities, a regulated derivatives exchange in Europe, said last Friday. “Crypto is no longer just a Wild West.”