American authorities have announced that Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange platform, and its CEO, Changpeng Zhao, have agreed to plead guilty to violating US anti-money laundering laws. As a result of this agreement, Binance will pay two fines totaling several billion dollars to the US Treasury.
The investigation into Binance began in 2018, and official legal action was taken this year by the two main financial market regulatory agencies, the SEC and the CFTC. The violations by Binance include failing to implement anti-money laundering measures and allowing a wide range of criminal actors to conduct trades on the platform. Despite committing to no longer accept American customers in 2019, Binance was found to have retained some American customers, particularly the most active and high-turnover ones.
As part of their agreement with American authorities, Binance has committed to using an external observer for compliance purposes for a period of three years. This highlights the challenges posed by digital currencies, which are used by criminal organizations and offer certain anonymity and less robust money laundering safeguards than the traditional financial system.
Changpeng Zhao may retain his stake in the capital of Binance but his sentence will not be known until a later date. The company has also committed to complying with existing regulations for a period of three years. This incident serves as a warning to other cryptocurrency exchange platforms about the importance of implementing proper anti-money laundering measures and adhering to regulations in order to avoid legal action from authorities.