Binance Accuses SEC of ‘Abusing the Discovery Provisions,’ Seeks Court-Ordered Protection
Binance asserts that the SEC discovery requests overstep the boundaries set by a June court order.
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Global cryptocurrency exchange Binance has turned to asking for protection in its ongoing dispute with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The exchange lodged a complaint on August 14, claiming that the SEC’s discovery demands, rooted in a June court order, have exceeded their purview:
“The SEC has declined BAM’s proposals or to meaningfully limit its requests. The SEC’s position is unreasonable and part of a broader pattern of the SEC abusing the discovery provision of the Consent Order. The Consent Order authorized “limited expedited discovery” on a narrow set of topics—namely, the custody, security, and availability of BAM customer assets.”
The June directive, which allowed the SEC insight into Binance’s practices surrounding customer assets’ custody and security, has, according to Binance, been used by the regulator to demand an extensive range of documents. The exchange maintains that many of these documents have tangential relevance, if any, to customer assets.
In its filing, Binance states that while they have been compliant and operated in good faith, the SEC’s interpretations of the June order seem to be far-reaching. The exchange highlights its offer to provide depositions from senior employees responsible for customer funds, an offer that has yet to gain traction with the SEC:
“At bottom, the SEC is conducting a fishing expedition instead of seeking the narrow and “limited” discovery authorized by the Consent Order to ensure customer assets are presently secure and available. The SEC’s approach is especially troubling and inappropriate.”
The protective order Binance is vying for seeks to narrow the SEC’s scope. It proposes limiting depositions to four key exchange employees, excluding high-ranking officials like Zhao or its CFO.
Additionally, it aims to confine the breadth of questions within the framework of the June order, preventing expansive probes unrelated to customer assets, as “the SEC has not established that its requests for all communications involving at least six witnesses are within the relevant scope of the Consent Order.”
This development follows the SEC’s lawsuit in June against Binance and its U.S. branch, Binance.US, over allegations of operating an unregistered securities exchange and associated sales. Notably, Binance also faces challenges from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, another regulatory arm of the United States, because “Binance knew they were violating CFTC rules, working actively to both keep the money flowing and avoid compliance.”