Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao may step down from Binance as part of a major $4 billion settlement between the Department of Justice and the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, according to a source familiar with the matter. The settlement will be with the DOJ and Commodities Futures Trading Commission; the Securities and Exchange Commission is not participating.
Binance, the DOJ, CFTC, and SEC had not replied to requests for comment at the time of publication.
The SEC charged Binance, and its founder CZ, in June with operating an unregistered exchange and misleading investors by using a Switzerland-based fund Sigma Chain, which was also owned by CZ, to inflate the trading volume on Binance’s U.S. platform. “Through thirteen charges, we allege that Zhao and Binance entities engaged in an extensive web of deception, conflicts of interest, lack of disclosure, and calculated evasion of the law,” SEC chair Gary Gensler said in June.
The SEC action followed charges brought by the CFTC, which also alleged the company offered crypto derivatives, such as futures or options contracts, to U.S. citizens without registering as a futures commodity merchant.
Bloomberg reported Monday that Binance was set to agree to a $4 billion settlement with the Justice Department. The deal would mark the end of a Justice Department investigation into the crypto exchange that began at least in 2018. Reuters reported that federal prosecutors had asked Binance to hand over files and messages relating to its U.S. customers in late 2020.
Last September, Binance announced the formation of a Global Advisory Board led by former US Senator and Ambassador to China Max Baucus. Other members include David Plouffe, former campaign manager for President Barack Obama, and Bruno Bézard, former head of the French Treasury.
Additional reporting by Steve Ehrlich, Sarah Emerson and Iain Martin.