Global Scrutiny on Binance: Following IRS Investigation, Now the UK and Japan are Banning the Exchange

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The United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority — the country’s financial regulator — has banned affiliates of crypto exchange Binance from operating in the country. This comes on the heels of the exchange being investigated in the United States by the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Justice.

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The FCA issued a statement over the weekend stating that Binance Markets Limited “is not permitted to undertake any regulated activity in the U.K. This firm is part of a wider Group (Binance Group).”

“Due to the imposition of requirements by the FCA, Binance Markets Limited is not currently permitted to undertake any regulated activities without the prior written consent of the FCA. No other entity in the Binance Group holds any form of U.K. authorisation, registration or licence to conduct regulated activity in the U.K.,” according to the statement.

The Wall Street Journal explains that the FCA move doesn’t ban customers from using Binance completely, as U.K. customers can continue to use Binance’s non-U.K. operations for activities the FCA doesn’t directly regulate, such as buying and selling direct holdings in Bitcoin.

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Binance tweeted yesterday that it was “aware of recent reports about an FCA U.K. notice in relation to Binance Markets Limited (BML). BML is a separate legal entity and does not offer any products or services via the website.”

“The FCA U.K. notice has no direct impact on the services provided on Our relationship with our users has not changed. We take a collaborative approach in working with regulators and we take our compliance obligations very seriously. We are actively keeping abreast of changing policies, rules and laws in this new space,” Binance added.

The FCA also said that by close of business on June 30, Binance must display, “in a prominent place on the website and any other communication channels or social media, including but not limited to, the Binance mobile and desktop applications a notice stating: Binance Markets Limited is not permitted to undertake any regulated activity in the U.K.”

In May, Bloomberg reported that as part of the U.S. inquiry, officials who probe money laundering and tax offenses have sought information from individuals with insight into Binance’s business.

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“While the Justice Department and IRS probe potential criminal violations, the specifics of what the agencies are examining couldn’t be determined, and not all inquiries lead to allegations of wrongdoing,” Bloomberg added.

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Following the Bloomberg article, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao tweeted “The “news” title is bad. Article itself isn’t so bad actually (but who reads). It described how @binance collaborated with law enforcement agencies to fight bad players, but somehow made it look like a bad thing…  Anyways. Back to work.”

Other countries are also cracking down on the exchange, including Japan, whose financial regulator, Financial Services Agency (FSA), warned Friday that Binance is operating in the country without permission and is not registered to do business in Japan, according to Coindesk.

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.

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