Rostin Behnam, chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), recently spoke out about allegations levied against Binance, claiming that the beleaguered cryptocurrency exchange’s leadership knowingly operated outside of U.S. laws governing the exchange of commodities and futures.
Speaking at a fireside chat that took place at the DeCenter Spring Conference at Princeton University on April 13, Behnam told those in attendance that Binance’s leaders intentionally flouted the rules concerning operations, including knowingly allowing United States citizens to participate on the exchange through the use of virtual private networks and other obfuscation tools, according to a Bloomberg report.
“These are not unsophisticated individuals,” Behnam said at the event. “They are starting large companies and offering futures contracts and derivatives to U.S. customers.” The CFTC head later added “If you are going to offer futures contracts in the U.S., there is a clear understanding that you are registered with the CFTC and comply by the law.”
The comments stem from the CFTC’s lawsuit against Binance and its CEO, Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, for alleged trading violations. The CFTC is charging Binance with seven counts: 1) executing unregistered futures transactions; 2) providing illegal commodities options; 3) failure to register as a futures commission merchant, 4) failure to register as a designated contract market; 5) failure to register as a swap execution facility; 6) failure to supervise diligently or implement Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer measures; and 7) evading the law.
The nuts and bolts of the CFTC’s suit against Binance — the exchange also faces legal action from the Internal Revenue Service and federal prosecutors — relies on supposed evidence that Binance and CZ continued onboarding U.S. customers despite a policy prohibiting such actions and that the company knowingly engaged in illegal futures trading, allegedly running the business afoul of U.S. AML laws.
Binance, for its part, continues to assert its participation in good-faith efforts at global compliance.