Binance seeking to ‘demonstrate that we are a new organization’ as regulatory headwinds swirl

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As the world’s largest crypto exchange, Binance has spent years fending off challengers, from other crypto firms such as Coinbase and FTX to regulatory agencies, with its founder and CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao at the helm.

Zhao’s grip on leadership appeared to loosen last week, with Binance announcing that it was promoting Richard Teng—previously regional head of Asia, Europe, and the Middle East and Northern Africa—to lead all markets outside of the U.S.

“This is so Binance can evolve with regulators’ expectations of the industry in the years to come,” the company tweeted.

Unlike Zhao, an engineer who founded the company in 2017 after learning about Bitcoin in a poker game, Teng has extensive experience in the regulatory space, having held key positions at the Monetary Authority of Singapore and Abu Dhabi Global Market.

With global agencies like the Department of Justice closing in on Binance for a checkered history that includes allegations of banking and money laundering violations, Teng appears to be positioned as an olive branch to those concerned about the firm’s law-evading reputation.

“We acknowledge there are past issues,” Teng told CoinDesk in an interview published Monday. “We want to solve all those policy issues in a responsible manner with the respective parties and move on to demonstrate that we are a new organization.”

A new leaf

This has been a difficult year for Binance—after dismantling chief rival FTX in November, it became a central target for regulators looking to tame the volatile sector.

The first strike came in February, as the New York Department of Financial Services targeted Binance’s self-branded stablecoin—BUSD—which suffered from management issues, effectively kneecapping the company’s participation in the lucrative space.

Other agencies followed, with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission filing civil charges against both Binance and Zhao in a stunning 74-page complaint outlining allegations of money laundering in March, amid swirling rumors of impending DOJ charges.

The actions have not been limited to the U.S., with Binance forced to leave other markets, including Canada and Australia, due to ongoing regulatory concerns.

Zhao remains a lightning rod for criticism. In May, The Information reported that the U.S. branch of the company was seeking to cut Zhao’s majority stake in order to improve relations with regulators. The firm also has made key hires to burnish its reputation, including Noah Perlman, a former counsel for the Drug Enforcement Administration tapped to be the firm’s global chief compliance officer in January.

Teng appears to be the latest in a series of moves to strengthen the company’s persistent claim that it has come into compliance—and the first that could signal a post-Zhao future.

In his interview with CoinDesk, Teng declined to comment on whether he would take over as CEO, describing the new position as “expanded responsibility” rather than a promotion.

Meanwhile, Binance continues to face questions over the management of its opaque web of companies and banking networks. On Monday, Reuters reported that a senior Binance executive was the main operator of five bank accounts for its allegedly independent U.S. entity in 2019 and 2020 under then-CEO of Binance.US Catherine Coley.

Binance did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fortune.





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