Binance Official Says Crypto Exchange Has Ousted North Koreans

"They recognized Binance was not the place for them," said Tigran Gambaryan, head of financial crime compliance at Binance.

AccessTimeIconApr 27, 2023 at 7:36 p.m. UTC
Updated Apr 28, 2023 at 8:11 p.m. UTC
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AUSTIN, Texas – Binance has figured out how to keep North Koreans off its crypto exchange, a senior compliance official said during a speech Thursday at CoinDesk's Consensus 2023 event.

"We kicked their ass enough that they're actually able to recognize that Binance was not the place for them," said Tigran Gambaryan, head of financial crime compliance at the largest crypto exchange by trading volume. "Binance has been fairly successful ... whether it's about how they circumvent controls or identifying the different entities or types of identification that they try to spoof."

Gambaryan highlighted the exchange's efforts by indicating how his 700-member compliance team "addresses 1,300 law enforcement requests on a weekly basis."

Earlier this week, the U.S. Treasury Department's sanctioning agency banned three North Korean individuals for supporting the Lazarus Group, a North Korean hacking team known for crypto thefts.

Binance is statistically prone to being used by bad actors, which is why in September 2021 it hired Gambaryan, a former special agent at the Internal Revenue Service where he headed multibillion-dollar cyber investigations (including the infamous Silk Road case).

Late last month, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) sued Binance, the exchange's founder Changpeng Zhao and other entities. Accusations include failing to register as a "futures commission merchant" while offering unregistered crypto derivatives to U.S. customers, effectively suggesting the company went out of its way to try to bypass U.S. regulations.

Earlier this week, Binance's U.S. unit not only terminated its asset purchase deal of bankrupt crypto lender Voyager Digital – citing a "hostile and uncertain regulatory climate in the United States" as a reason – but also quietly lifted restrictions on Russian citizens and residents.

Gambaryan said he remained concerned about nation-state bad actors and pig butchering scams in which scammers convince consumers to invest small amounts in crypto over time before siphoning these assets – fattening the pig before butchering it.

Edited by Nick Baker.


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Amitoj Singh

Amitoj Singh is a CoinDesk reporter.

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