SEC Sues Binance In Damning Lawsuit

SEC complaint alleges Binance's own compliance officer noted the exchange was a "fking unlicensed securities exchanged in the USA bro"

By: Zack Abrams

June 5, 2023

The SEC unleashed 13 damning charges against Binance, the world’s biggest crypto exchange, and its CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao on Monday. We dug through the 136-page filing for the most damning allegations from the lawsuit so far, along with the other important (but slightly less important) headlines to kick off the week.

Here’s what’s happening today in crypto.

In SEC v. Binance…

The SEC filed 13 charges against CZ and Binance, alleging a variety of improprieties. According to the SEC, CZ was “integrally involved” in running Binance.US, despite claims that the entity is completely separate.

Here’s some more of what we learned from the lawsuit:

Binance’s Chief Compliance Officer, Samuel Lim, allegedly told a coworker, “we are operating as a fking unlicensed securities exchange in the USA bro.”

When the CEO of Bam Trading, the company that operates Binance.US, attempted to declare independence from Binance, CZ fired them and then, three months later, fired their replacement for the same reason.

The SEC also alleges that CZ’s personal trading firm Sigma Chain engaged in wash trading on Binance.US’s platform and promoted sketchy volume metrics in pitch decks and on social media, echoing similar claims about Sam Bankman-Fried and the relationship between his trading arm, Alameda Research, and his exchange, FTX.

The SEC included a “non-exhaustive list” of 10 crypto assets it deems securities, including the tokens for Solana, Cardano, Polygon, Filecoin, Cosmos, Sandbox, Decentraland, Algorand, Axie Infinity, and Coti. All of them are facing heavy losses on the news.

Why that last one, which is only around the 300th crypto in the world by market capitalization? Because wash trading on Binance.US by Sigma Chain accounted for over 35% of its volume in its first 11 days after being listed on the platform. 

Both CZ and Binance have responded, with CZ calling the lawsuit “an attack on the entire industry” on Twitter and Binance declaring in a press release, “We intend to defend our platform vigorously.”

In Politics…

Meanwhile, House Republicans are drafting legislation that would provide a path towards assets being deemed commodities, rather than securities, forcing the SEC to play ball. It’s unclear whether the SEC’s timing in filing its lawsuit against Binance was related. 

Also, in a poll from the libertarian Cato Institute, only 16% of Americans support a CBDC, compared to 34% opposed. Half of Americans haven’t made up their minds, but I expect that number to decrease as the 2024 campaign heats up

In Other Headlines…

If you missed our live news discussion on Twitter with Fox Business crypto reporter Eleanor Terrett, you can watch the full replay above. If you have a Digital Membership Pass, you can even help us out by submitting stories you’d like to see highlighted. If you aren’t an owner of Coinage yet, mint a pass today!

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