Binance to Make 'Complete Exit' From U.S., Pay Billions to FinCEN, OFAC on Top of DOJ Settlement

The crypto exchange, which is settling charges with the Department of Justice, will appoint a monitor as well.

AccessTimeIconNov 21, 2023 at 8:37 p.m. UTC
Updated Jan 26, 2024 at 2:57 p.m. UTC
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Crypto exchange Binance will leave the U.S., pay billions in fines and appoint a monitor for five years to settle charges with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC), the U.S. Treasury Department's money laundering and sanctions watchdogs, according to press releases shared Tuesday.

The exchange will pay $3.4 billion to FinCEN and $968 million to OFAC as part of these settlements, which saw both agencies accuse Binance of violating the Bank Secrecy Act and sanctions programs. Binance had already said it will pay $4.3 billion in fines and forfeitures to the U.S. Department of Justice to settle charges it violated sanctions law and failed to maintain a proper know-your-customer program. Changpeng "CZ" Zhao, the exchange's founder and CEO, is resigning from his role as part of that settlement.

In addition, Binance will make a "complete exit" from the U.S. as part of its settlement with FinCENand appoint a monitor for five years who will oversee the exchange's sanctions compliance program. The U.S. Treasury Department will have access to Binance's record and systems during that time.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said that Tuesday's action was the largest settlement in the department's history.

"I want to make sure that folks really understand how unprecedented this monitorship is," a senior official told reporters earlier on Tuesday. "We're not just going after the egregious conduct … but we're also … getting Binance out of the U.S. entirely."

The official clarified that the separate exchange called Binance.US, which is the operating name for BAM Trading Services, a U.S. affiliate for Binance, is a registered money services business and therefore is not affected by Binance's exit.

Binance allowed individuals associated with Hamas, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, people in North Korea and other sanctioned jurisdictions, money launderers and malicious cybersecurity actors to use its platform, the agencies said.

"By failing to comply with AML and sanctions obligations, Binance enabled a range of illicit actors to transact freely on the platform," the press release said.

UPDATE (Nov. 21, 2023, 20:55 UTC): Adds comments from Janet Yellen.

Edited by Nick Baker.

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Nikhilesh De

Nikhilesh De is CoinDesk's managing editor for global policy and regulation. He owns marginal amounts of bitcoin and ether.


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