Despite Binance Holdings Ltd.’s recent $4.3 billion settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is persisting with its case against the company and its founder, Changpeng Zhao.
SEC says Binance, DOJ settlement supports case
The SEC filed a lawsuit in June, claiming that Binance and Zhao were involved in deception, conflicts of interest, lack of disclosure, and evading the law. The SEC contends that admissions in the DOJ settlement support its case, urging the federal court in Washington to consider them.
While Binance and Zhao seek dismissal, the SEC is determined to move its case forward.
In the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the SEC’s complaint alleges that Binance.com and Binance.US operated as unregistered exchanges, brokers, and clearing agencies, exposing investors to risks and conflicts of interest.
SEC Chair Gary Gensler also alleges that Binance misled investors about risk controls and manipulated trading volumes.
On Nov. 8, the SEC contended that despite not being part of the agreement, the federal court in Washington overseeing its case should take into account admissions made by Binance and Zhao, who has since resigned as CEO.
The firm and Zhao have both requested the court to dismiss the SEC’s lawsuit.
According to Bloomberg, the extensive settlement between Binance and the U.S. government concluded lengthy investigations by the Justice Department, various branches of the Treasury Department, and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Notably, the agreement did not involve the SEC.
The SEC-Binance showdown
The SEC alleges that Binance mishandled customer funds, provided misleading information to investors and regulators, and violated securities rules.
In a 60-page petition, Binance and Zhao argue that the SEC had exceeded its authority in suing the firm.
Binance and Zhao, in their call for dismissal, accused the regulator of attempting to retroactively impose penalties without offering any public guidance on cryptocurrencies.
This legal clash follows the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) lawsuit against Binance three months earlier for non-registration and guideline violations, reflecting the cryptocurrency industry’s escalating scrutiny by regulators.
Notably, Binance emphasized its ongoing commitment to cooperation with regulators, intending to resolve issues through negotiations. However, the company conveyed disappointment with the SEC’s choice to unilaterally initiate litigation, rather than opting for a constructive resolution process.
The SEC’s lawsuit against Binance and its affiliates carries significant implications, as the regulator contends that the majority of cryptocurrencies, akin to stocks, are securities, thereby subjecting them to its regulatory oversight.