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Binance, the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange, and its chief executive have been sued by the US's top financial watchdog, which has accused them of making billions of dollars while "putting investors' assets at significant risk" ".
In a court filing, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) accused Binance and its CEO Changpeng Zhao of misappropriating "billions of dollars" in customer funds and secretly funneling them to a separate company.
In its complaint filed Monday in a federal district court in Washington, the SEC added: "The defendants have enriched themselves by billions of US dollars while putting investors' assets at significant risk." The complaint alleges that between June 2018 and July 2021, Binance earned at least $11.6 billion (£9.3 billion) in revenue, mostly from transaction fees.
Among other charges, the SEC alleges that, while Zhao and Binance publicly claimed that US customers were restricted from transactions on Binance.com, " Zhao and Binance in reality subverted their controls to secretly allow high-net-worth US customers to continue trading on the Binance.com Platform”.
The 13 civil charges are filed against Zhao, Binance Holdings and two other Binance-related entities, BAM Trading Services and BAM Management US Holdings. The SEC said Binance and BAM operated the Binance.US platform, which was designed for US customers after the main platform Binance said in 2019 it was exiting the US market.
However, Zhao also became known in Albania in 2022, when he appeared alongside Prime Minister Edi Rama.
"I met this beautiful Saturday with the Prime Minister of Albania, Mr. Edi Rama ," Zhao wrote at the time alongside the photo. Their meeting came after the chief democrat Berisha accused Rama's brother, Olsi, that in cooperation with Amant Josif, they had stolen 2.2 billion euros from European citizens through bitcoin.