Lack of Evidence Reportedly Delays DoJ Decision on Binance’s 2018 AML Investigation

  • Unnamed sources have told Reuters there was conflict among U.S. prosecutors, with some saying they needed to review more evidence before filing charges.
  • The individuals also claimed Binance’s lawyers had discussed potential plea deals, arguing that criminal charges could negatively affect the crypto market.

Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao. CoinDesk

U.S. prosecutors appear to disagree on whether they have gathered enough evidence to charge Binance for possible money laundering and criminal sanctions violations, Reuters reported on 12 December.

The publication cited four people familiar with the matter, who said that the conclusion of the Department of Justice (DoJ) investigation into Binance — which started in 2018, and focused on the exchange’s compliance with anti-money laundering laws and sanctions — was getting delayed due disagreements between prosecutors. While some believe they had gathered enough evidence to move “aggressively” against Binance and file criminal charges, others thought more concrete evidence was needed before the move was made.

Reuters’ unnamed sources claimed that Binance’s attorneys held meetings with DoJ officials in recent months, arguing that criminal proceedings could have a negative effect on the crypto market, which was reacently shaken by the numerous investigations into bankrupt crypto exchange FTX. The individuals also claimed that potential plea deals were also discussed during these meetings. Binance quickly refuted Reuters’ article, with a spokesperson for the exchange saying:

“As has been reported widely, regulators are doing a sweeping review of every crypto company against many of the same issues. This nascent industry has grown quickly and Binance has shown its commitment to security and compliance through large investments in our team as well as the tools and technology we use to detect and deter illicit activity”

Binance’s co-founder and CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao added on Twitter:

The exchange’s global head of intelligence and investigations, Tigran Gambaryan, argued in a blog post that Binance had one of the strongest security and investigation teams in the industry. He also pointed out that since November 2021, Binance had complied to more than 47,000 law enforcement requests, with a response time faster than any traditional financial institution. Binance was also the first crypto company to join the National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance (NCFTA).

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