US federal prosecutors have opened an investigation into the world’s largest cryptocurrency trading platform Binance. Binance has been requested to submit comprehensive internal records regarding anti-money laundering audits.
According to the request seen by Reuters and written at the end of 2020, prosecutors also sought correspondence related to money laundering audits involving the company’s chief executive and founder, Changpeng Zhao.
The money laundering department of the U.S. Department of Justice has asked Binance to voluntarily turn in internal memos that the company has identified illegal transactions, involving Zhao, 12 other directors and partners, regarding transactions by U.S. customers. The ministry also requested company records containing the commands “destroy, replace or remove documents from Binance files” or “transferred from the US”.
CONSIDERING VIOLATION OF PRIVACY LAW
According to four sources close to the investigation, the previously undisclosed December 2020 request is part of the Justice Department’s ongoing investigation into Binance’s compliance with US financial crime laws.
According to sources, US officials are investigating whether Binance violated the US Bank Secrecy Act. Accordingly, if cryptocurrency companies conduct large-scale business activities in the United States, they must register with the Department of the Treasury and comply with anti-money laundering requirements. This law, which was enacted to protect the US financial system from illegal financing, provides for up to 10 years in prison for violation.
COMPANY’S TRADING VOLUME MORE THAN $2 TRILLION
Reuters was unable to obtain information on how Binance and Zhao responded to the request from the financial crime department within the Justice Department.
But in response to Reuters’ questions, Patrick Hillmann, Binance’s Chief Communications Director, said: “Regulators around the world are reaching out to every major cryptocurrency trading platform to better understand the industry. This is a standard process for all regulated entities and we work with them regularly to answer any regulatory questions they may have.” he stated.
Born in China and educated in Canada, Binance, which Zhao founded in Shanghai in 2017, dominates more than half of the global cryptocurrency market as of July. The company’s trading volume in July was more than $2 trillion.