Binance Said to Be Hiring ‘UK Version of Brian Brooks’

The crypto exchange is looking for a U.K.-based ex-regulator or government official, according to people familiar with the plans.

Jul 7, 2021 at 8:00 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 1:21 p.m. UTC

Binance is attempting to hire a former regulator or government official in the U.K. in order to lend the brand some compliance clout as global regulatory pressure mounts on the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange operator, according to two people familiar with the plans.

Binance is looking to hire “a U.K. version of Brian Brooks,” one of the people told CoinDesk, referring to the well-regarded former head of the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) who was brought in to run Binance.US in April of this year.

The search for a respected former regulator to represent Binance's interests in the U.K. follows an announcement last month by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which said that Binance was not allowed to conduct any regulated activities in the country. As a result of the FCA's action, British bank Barclays said earlier this week it was blocking customers from using its debit and credit cards to make payments to Binance. 


The exchange operator's regulatory issues aren't limited to the U.K. Regulators from Japan to the Cayman Islands have announced actions ranging from simply saying the exchange operator is not welcome to operate in their country to, in Thailand's case, a criminal complaint. Over in the U.S., Bloomberg in May reported Binance was under investigation by federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Binance had not been accused of any wrongdoing at that time, Bloomberg said.

In response, Binance has been busy bolstering its compliance efforts and making sure people know it's doing so, making a flurry of announcements just this week. On Tuesday the firm said it named former California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation head Manuel Alvarez to the BinanceUS arm headed by Brooks. 

Less than 24 hours later, the exchange operator announced it's hired a new director of compliance, Jonathan Farnell, who joined from eToro, where he served in senior compliance roles. The exchange also published an open letter from the company's CEO that welcomed increased regulation in the space and highlighted Binance's compliance efforts even as while admitting the exchange operator has made some missteps along the way.

"Binance has grown very quickly and we haven't always got everything exactly right, but we are learning and improving every day," CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao said in the letter.

According to LinkedIn, the company's newly announced head of compliance, Farnell, has been in his new position for the past three months but the firm did not announce him immediately due to internal policies, a spokesperson said. The spokesperson added that long-serving U.K. head of compliance Lynn McConnell’s role is unaffected by Farnell’s arrival. 

UPDATE (July 7, 11:06 UTC): Adds compliance news from yesterday, details from CEO letter.

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