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SEC: Binance’s DOJ Settlement Strengthens Our Case

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) says Binance’s recent plea deal gives it new ammunition against the cryptocurrency exchange.

As Bloomberg News reported, the SEC contended in a hearing Friday (Dec. 8) that the court should take into consideration the guilty pleas by Binance and its former CEO last month.

The SEC sued Binance and Changpeng Zhao, the former chief executive, in June, accusing the company of misleading investors, violating securities regulation and mishandling customer funds. The company has asked the court to dismiss the case.

Binance last month pleaded guilty to a criminal charge and agreed to pay $4.3 billion in fines to resolve a long-running Department of Justice investigation. 

Zhao, the company’s founder and CEO of Binance, also pleaded guilty to violating criminal U.S. anti-money laundering requirements, and agreed to resign. Richard Teng, who had been Binance’s global head of regional markets, stepped in to take over as CEO.

In addition to the DOJ, Binance also reached resolutions with Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), Office of Foreign Assets Control and Financial Crimes Enforcement Network in connection with those agencies’ investigations into the company’s registration, compliance and sanctions issues.

While none of these agencies had alleged Binance misappropriated any user funds or engaged in any market manipulation, the company has acknowledged it did not have adequate compliance controls in place when it launched.

“Binance grew at an extremely fast pace globally, in a new and evolving industry that was in the early stages of regulation, and Binance made misguided decisions along the way,” the company said on its blog. “Today, Binance takes responsibility for this past chapter.”

While Binance may have closed the book on this matter, Zhao is still facing sentencing next year, and could serve up to 18 months in prison.

And in the meantime, he’ll apparently remain in America, after a court ruling last week determining that the billionaire founder is a flight risk.

This decision overruled an earlier ruling allowing Zhao to return to Dubai while awaiting his sentencing. His lawyers had argued Zhao is not a flight risk, as he came to the U.S. to enter his guilty plea, intends to resolve the case and offered a sizable bail package

However, prosecutors argued that Zhao presented a flight risk because of his massive wealth and his close ties to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which does not have an extradition treaty with the U.S.