Binance France Changes Changpeng Zhao Following Regulator Warning

Binance France Changes Ownership Following Regulator Warning

  • Former CEO Changpeng Zhao cannot be a beneficiary of Binance France if the crypto exchange wants to keep its French license.

Binance France has new shareholders who own 100% of the company equally between them. The move was necessary after the country’s Financial Markets Authority (AMF) sent the company a warning in December.

According to a blog post, the AMF informed Binance France that it had to take action in response to the problems that arose between the original beneficial owner and the United States Justice Department, Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. In other words, former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao could no longer own the company.

The post indicated that Zhao had already withdrawn from the company. He pleaded guilty to the U.S. charges in November and has been sentenced to four months in prison in the United States, although he has yet to begin his prison term.

Binance France did not provide the names of the new beneficiaries but said they were both members of Binance’s founding team. 

The Pappers information service indicated that they are Lihua He and Yulong Yan. Little information is available about either individual.

The Binance white paper presumably identifies Yan as Allan Yan, the first product director. Yan was also a co-founder of Bijie Tech, the company Zhao established before Binance to provide software to cryptocurrency exchanges. That Shanghai-based company was shut down in 2017. Lihua He is not mentioned in that document.

Under Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) regulations, a company licensed in one European Union country can passport the license to all 27 member states. 

Binance reportedly received AMF approval in May 2022, after operating illegally in the country since 2020. It was also reportedly under investigation for Anti-Money Laundering violations before Zhao faced charges in the United States.

Binance France also faced challenges finding a banking partner in France after the CFTC filed suit against the company in March 2023. Binance France executive director Stéphanie Cabossioras joined a wave of executives who departed the company in October 2023.

In June, Binance was denied a virtual asset service provider license in the Netherlands and its Belgian operations were closed by regulators later the same month.

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