Binance US and its founder Changpeng Zhao (CZ) are reportedly exploring ways to reduce CZ’s stake in the company amid intense regulatory scrutiny in the United States over the past year. CZ, the majority owner of Binance US, has been seeking to reduce his stake in the U.S.-based exchange since last summer, according to a report by the Information on May 11, citing sources familiar with the matter.
Binance and CZ have faced intense scrutiny from U.S. federal regulators, with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) suing the exchange and CZ in March for allegedly operating an “illegal” exchange with a “sham” compliance program. The firm was accused of deliberately evading U.S. law and engaging in regulatory arbitrage for commercial gain.
In response, Binance claimed regulatory compliance and stated that it had implemented a robust risk and compliance approach. However, Binance US bosses have reportedly been seeking ways to reduce CZ’s stake and influence over the company, as they fear they may not be able to obtain certain regulatory licenses as long as CZ remains the majority owner.
The SEC has also been targeting American-based crypto exchanges, bringing them under the same stringent regulations as banks and stock brokerages. The result has been an exodus from the U.S. with major players such as Coinbase, Gemini, Ripple, and Galaxy Digital considering moving offshore following recent SEC enforcement action.
Even major exchanges such as Kraken and Bittrex have already partially or fully shuttered their services in the United States as the regulatory war on crypto continues. In February, the SEC sued Paxos, the issuer of Binance’s stablecoin BUSD, resulting in the end of minting. Meanwhile, the regulator blocked the approval of a Binance.US bid for assets belonging to bankrupt crypto lending firm Voyager Digital.
The regulatory landscape in the U.S. for crypto exchanges has become increasingly challenging, with Binance US and its founder CZ reportedly exploring ways to reduce his stake in the company. As the SEC continues to bring crypto exchanges under the same regulations as banks and stock brokerages, it remains to be seen how the industry will adapt to these changes and whether more exchanges will follow in the footsteps of Bittrex and Kraken.