Chinese authorities have reportedly raided and shut down the Shanghai offices of leading cryptocurrency exchange Binance.
Citing unnamed local sources, The Block says that local police have shut down Binance’s offices after raiding the premises. Between 50–100 of the exchange’s employees reportedly worked out of the Shanghai location.
Binance has not responded to Cointelegraph’s requests for comment as of press time.
Closure follows crackdown
The purported raid follows a crackdown on cryptocurrency-related businesses and activities in the country.
Recently, financial authorities in China issued a notice to the public, directing individuals to report businesses engaged in virtual asset trading to the Shanghai headquarters of the People's Bank of China — the country’s central bank. Activities that must be reported include:
“Virtual currency transactions in the territory; the other is to issue ‘xx coins’ and ‘xx’ in the form of ‘blockchain application scenarios.’ Currency, fundraising or bitcoin, virtual currency such as Ethereum; third, providing services such as publicity, diversion, agency trading, etc. for registered ICO projects, virtual currency trading platforms, etc.”
Notice from authorities on cryptocurrency-related activities. Source: Chain News
However, Binance told Cointelegraph that the company had not received this notice. Similarly, Beijing-founded Huobi told Cointelegraph that the company was familiar with the notice, but had not received it.
Offices are an outdated concept?
In a move of regulatory arbitrage, Binance opened offices in Malta in 2018 as the island nation ramped up its cryptocurrency-friendly regulatory projects.
Last month, rumors abounded that the exchange was opening offices in the Chinese capital of Beijing, despite the country’s decidedly anti-cryptocurrency stance.
However, according to the firm’s CEO Changpeng Zhao, offices themselves are an antiquated concept. In a tweet on Nov. 19, Zhao said, “Office and HQ are old concepts like SMS and MMS. Time is moving on…”
Markets react with major coins seeing red
Cryptocurrency markets have reacted to the news, with most major coins seeing significant losses on the day.
Cryptocurrency market visualization. Source: Coin360
Bitcoin (BTC) is seeing losses over 6% while leading altcoin Ether (ETH) has lost over 8% in the last 24 hours. Altcoins like Litecoin (LTC) and EOS are taking a beating with over 9% losses, while Binance’s own coin, Binance Coin (BNB), is down 10% at press time to trade at $16.58.