February 21, 2024

The Philippines’ Securities and Exchange Commission has begun the process of blocking access to the world’s largest crypto exchange Binance, whose chief last week stepped down and pleaded guilty to breaking US anti-money laundering laws.

The SEC said the operator of Binance was not a registered corporation in the Philippines, and was operating without the necessary licence and authority to sell or offer any form of securities.

The removal of access in the Philippines, the SEC said in a statement, will take effect within three months of the issuance of its advisory on November 28 to give Filipino users time to pull out investments from the crypto exchange.

It has asked Alphabet’s Google and Facebook parent Meta to ban online advertisements from Binance in the Philippines, and warned those selling via or convincing people to invest in the platform they may be held criminally liable.

Former Binance chief Changpeng Zhao stepped down as CEO last week after pleading guilty to wilfully causing the exchange to fail to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program.

Reuters sought comment from Binance through email, but received an automated response.

Binance broke US anti-money laundering and sanctions laws and failed to report more than 100,000 suspicious transactions with organizations the US described as terrorist groups including Hamas, al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, authorities said.

The exchange also never reported transactions with websites devoted to selling child sexual abuse materials and was one of the largest recipients of ransomware proceeds, they said.

© Thomson Reuters 2023


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