Cryptocurrency exchange Binance moved $1.8 billion of collateral meant to back its customers' stablecoins to hedge funds last year, according to a Forbes article on Monday.
According to the report, Binance transferred the collateral to hedge funds including Alameda Research and Cumberland/DRW and did so without informing its customers. According to blockchain data from Aug. 17 to early December examined by Forbes, a period that encompassed the collapse of fellow crypto exchange FTX, holders of more than $1 billion of crypto for B-peg USDC tokens had no collateral for instruments that Binance said would be fully backed by the token they were pegged to. B-peg USDC are digital replicas of dollar-pegged stablecoin USDC.
Binance's chief strategy officer, Patrick Hillman, told Forbes the movement of money among wallets was common practice and not a problem. "There was no commingling," Hillman said, because "there's wallets and there is a ledger."
On Tuesday, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao tweeted about the Forbes article, accusing the publication of "intentionally misconstruing facts" and referring to "some old blockchain transactions that our clients have done." Zhao said that Binance's users are free to withdraw their assets any time they wish and that users "also must deposit to Binance first to be able to withdraw, which are also easily traceable on the blockchain."
In a statement sent to CoinDesk on Monday, a Binance spokesperson said the exchange has "never invested or otherwise deployed user assets without consent under the terms of specific products. Binance holds all of its clients’ assets in segregated accounts which are identified separately from any accounts used to hold assets belonging to Binance."
The spokesperson also said that the transactions identified by Forbes relate to internal wallet management and did not affect the collateralization of user assets.
"While Binance has previously acknowledged that wallet management processes for Binance-pegged token collateral have not always been flawless, at no time was the collateralization of user assets affected," the spokesperson wrote. "Processes for managing our collateral wallets have been fixed on a longer-term basis and this is verifiable on-chain."
Binance recently said it was moving to a semi-automated process for managing the reserves of tokens it issues after years in which reserves were mixed with customer funds and at least one major stablecoin, Binance-peg BUSD, was not always fully backed.
UPDATE (Feb. 27, 22:47 UTC): Added comments from Binance spokesperson.
UPDATE (Feb. 28, 15:23 UTC): Added tweets from Binance's CEO.
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