The Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) claims that it has never approved major cryptocurrency exchange Binance to operate in the country.
On Feb. 21, the MFSA issued a public statement, stating that Binance “is not authorized by the MFSA to operate in the crypto currency sphere.” The agency outlined that recent media reports referred to Binance incorrectly as a “Malta-based cryptocurrency firm,” while the exchange “may not fall within the realm of regulatory oversight.”
While major local publications like Malta Today have been referring to Binance as a Malta-regulated crypto business, the MFSA has apparently made a similar statement before, claiming:
“Following a report in a section of the media referring to Binance as a ‘Malta-based cryptocurrency’ company, the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) reiterates that Binance is not authorized by the MFSA to operate in the crypto currency sphere and is therefore not subject to regulatory oversight by the MFSA.”
The MFSA further emphasized that operating a crypto-related business in the country requires an MFSA licence under the Virtual Financial Assets Act of 2018.
Cointelegraph reached out Binance for comment but did not receive an immediate response. This story will be updated should they respond.
As reported by Cointelegraph, Binance announced it was opening an office in Malta in 2018 after pressure from Japanese regulators forced it to relocate. At the time, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) said that he was invited to Malta by the government in order to look at an upcoming bill that would be favorable to crypto businesses.
In September 2018, a fintech arm of the Malta Stock Exchange signed a memorandum of understanding with Binance to jointly launch a new security token digital exchange.
Where in the world is Binance?
The question of where Binance is formally located is not new. Late last year, reports of a police raid on supposed Binance offices in China sent crypto markets into a spiral. Binance subsequently denied the reports, stating:
“The Binance team is a global movement consisting of people working in a decentralized manner wherever they are in the world. Binance has no fixed offices in Shanghai or China, so it makes no sense that police raided on any offices and shut them down.”
Indeed, Changpeng Zhao, the firm’s CEO, has previously criticized the very idea of centralized offices and headquarters, tweeting, “Office and HQ are old concepts like SMS and MMS. Time is moving on…”
The news follows an unexpected technical issue on Binance platform reported on Feb. 19. As announced by the exchange, Binance suspended most of its trading activities due to unscheduled maintenance.