Binance, the largest exchange by trading volume, is facing money laundering and tax evasion investigations from the U.S. Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service, according to Bloomberg.
Although the government agencies haven’t accused the exchange of any wrongdoings yet, Binance spokesperson Jessica Jung claims that the company takes its legal obligations “very seriously.”
“We take our legal obligations very seriously and engage with regulators and law enforcement in a collaborative fashion.”
Changpeng Zhao, the CEO of Binance said the company closely follows U.S. rules, by blocking Americans from its website, and uses advanced technology to analyze transactions for signs of money laundering and other illicit activity.
As part of the probe into Binance’s activities, officials who probe money laundering and tax offences have sought information from individuals with insight into Binance’s business. The firm, like the industry it operates in, has succeeded because of the lack of government intervention.
Binance is incorporated in the Cayman Islands and has an office in Singapore but says it lacks a single corporate headquarters.
Chainalysis Inc., a blockchain forensics firm whose clients include U.S. federal agencies, concluded last year that among transactions that it examined, more funds tied to criminal activity flowed through Binance than any other crypto exchange.
The inquiries followed Chainalysis’ report on criminal transactions involving digital tokens. The firm tracked Bitcoin worth $2.8 billion that it suspects criminals moved on to trading platforms in 2019. Chainalysis determined that roughly 27%, or $756 million, wound up on Binance.
Binance responded by saying it adheres to all anti-money laundering regulations in the jurisdictions in which it operates and works with partners like Chainalysis to improve its systems.
Binance spokeswoman, Jessica Jung said in an email statement, “We have worked hard to build a robust compliance program that incorporates anti-money laundering principles and tools used by financial institutions to detect and address suspicious activity.”
U.S. officials have expressed concerns about cryptocurrencies being used to conceal illegal transactions, including theft, drug deals, and tax evasion. These concerns have been a hindrance to the industry being globally accepted, even as Wall Street is starting to embrace cryptocurrencies. For example, Colonial Pipeline Co. paid East European hackers $5 million ransom in untraceable cryptocurrency within hours of the cyber-attack on the company. The attack caused fuel shortages across the Eastern U.S.
The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has also been investigating Binance over whether it permitted Americans to make illegal trades, Bloomberg reported in March. In that case, authorities have been examining whether Binance let investors buy derivatives that are linked to digital tokens. U.S. residents are barred from purchasing such products unless the firms offering them are registered with the CFTC.