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CFTC Examines Whether Binance Illegally Brokered Trades for US Users

After allegations last year that Binance may have deliberately evaded U.S. regulations, the exchange is now under investigation.

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Key Takeaways

  • The CFTC has not formally accused Binance of illegally brokering trades for U.S. residents.
  • Social media content indicates that U.S. residents can indeed use Binance through VPNs, but it is unclear if Binance is accountable for this.
  • Binance was accused last year of evading U.S. regulations, and Coinbase has implied that the exchange has lax compliance.

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The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) in the U.S. is investigating Binance to determine whether the exchange illegally facilitated trading for U.S. residents.

Binance Under Investigation

Binance isn’t registered with the CFTC and is not authorized to allow derivatives trading by U.S. residents. The U.S. regulator views cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum as commodities, giving the agency jurisdiction over trading products derived from those commodities.
As of yet, the CFTC has not leveled any accusations. However, the probe indicates that U.S. regulators are keeping a sharp eye on Binance.
In November, a Forbes article alleged that Binance might have established a U.S. subsidiary company to evade U.S. regulations deliberately. Binance denied that the documents leaked by Forbes came from the exchange, suing multiple Forbes journalists before dropping the case last month.

U.S. residents are blocked from using the Binance website directly, although content on Reddit and YouTube indicates that users can get around this by using a VPN.

“We take a collaborative approach in working with regulators around the world and we take our compliance obligations very seriously,” Binance said.

While crypto adoption has come leaps and bounds in recent years, regulators have only just begun to catch up with the developing technology. The CFTC recently sued BitMEX for failing to register as a broker, and rival exchange Coinbase is also under CFTC investigation, ending margin trading last year to comply with CFTC rules.

In a February 2021 Form S-1 filing with the SEC, Coinbase called Binance out for an apparent lack of regulatory compliance. The filing stated Coinbase competes with “several companies that solely focus on the crypto market and have varying degrees of regulatory adherence, such as Binance.”

Binance exists as multiple entities headquartered in different jurisdictions worldwide, making regulation and investigation more complex than with most companies. However, recent CFTC activity suggests that regulators will not be easily dissuaded.

Disclosure: The author held Bitcoin at the time of press.

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