Home » Binance investigation: CZ may step down as more top executives resign

Binance investigation: CZ may step down as more top executives resign

by Samson Echenim

More top executives of Binance are resigning over CEO Changpeng Zhao’s response to Justice Department investigations and it is now closer to Zhao himself stepping down as CEO of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange.

Binance has been under strain for months amid an onslaught of regulatory investigations that have severed many of its key banking relationships across the globe.

The Economy gathered that the giant cryptocurrency exchange is now in full-on turmoil after top executives resigned this week over CEO Changpeng Zhao’s handling of the investigations.

According to a report by Fortune, senior figures, including general counsel Hon Ng, chief strategy officer Patrick Hillmann, and SVP for compliance Steven Christie, told Zhao this week they are leaving the company. Their departure follows the recent exit of Matthew Price, a former IRS agent whom Binance hired in 2021 to oversee global investigations and intelligence.

The decision by the executives to quit the company represents a management and strategic crisis for Binance at a time when it is navigating immense regulatory pressure. The situation is also likely to increase that pressure given that the departures are from legal and compliance units that deal most directly with regulators.
The multiple U.S. investigations—along with others in Europe, Australia, and elsewhere—have given rise to rumors that Zhao might step aside as part of an effort to help Binance weather the regulatory storm. In June, Bloomberg published a lengthy profile of Richard Teng, a fast-rising Binance executive with experience, describing him as the “heir apparent” to Zhao as the company mulled succession options.

Binance CEO, ZhaoBinance CEO, Zhao

But so far, Zhao, a nomadic technology genius fluent in both Western and Asian culture, has given no indication he’s prepared to step aside.

However, responding to inquiries on the matter by Fortune, Zhao said the company promoted a new general counsel a month ago, and that Chief Compliance Officer Noah Perlman is staying on at the company. He added that Hillman’s departure was for personal reasons.

According to a person at Binance familiar with the situation, the executives chose to depart over Zhao’s response to an ongoing investigation by the Department of Justice. Several outlets have reported that the investigation, underway for more than a year, relates to Binance’s alleged attempts to bamboozle U.S. regulators as well as alleged money laundering and sanctions violations on the company’s platform.

Binance is already the subject of serious regulatory lawsuits filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and rumors have swirled that a criminal complaint by the Justice Department against both the company and Zhao are imminent.

Binance remains by far the biggest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, but in recent months its market share has started to slide, likely as a result of the regulatory pressure and on the decision by banks in the U.S., Europe, and elsewhere to cut off the company’s access to fiat currency.


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