Senator Elizabeth Warren, a well-known critic of cryptocurrencies, has called on the US Department of Justice to investigate whether Binance provided false information to Congress. Along with Senator Chris Van Hollen, Warren alleges that Binance may have violated the law by claiming that Binance and Binance.US were independent entities and that Binance.US prioritized regulatory compliance. These claims are central to the 13 charges recently filed against Binance by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The SEC accused Binance and its CEO Changpeng Zhao of exerting hidden control over Binance.US and misleading investors about the trading controls on the US platform, which the SEC described as “non-existent.” Recognizing the gravity of the situation, Warren and Van Hollen wrote to Attorney General Merrick Garland on June 7, highlighting that Binance and Binance.US provided false and misleading information during an important congressional investigation into the cryptocurrency industry. The senators emphasized that this behavior undermines the legislative process and called for an investigation that could potentially lead to fines and imprisonment under federal law.
Back in March, Warren and Van Hollen had previously reached out to Binance, Zhao, and Binance.US with a series of inquiries regarding the structure of the companies, compliance with anti-money laundering regulations, and the relationship between Binance and Binance.US. In response, Binance’s Communications Officer Patrick Hillmann, who has since left the company, asserted in a letter that Binance and Binance.US were separate entities. Hillmann clarified that although both platforms were ultimately owned by Changpeng Zhao and he served as a board member of Binance.US, the two exchanges were independent and not subsidiaries of each other.
The allegations raised by Warren and Van Hollen, along with the charges brought by the SEC, have increased the pressure on Binance. A thorough investigation into the veracity of the information provided to Congress will be essential in determining the extent of any wrongdoing. As the situation unfolds, the cryptocurrency industry continues to face scrutiny from regulators, highlighting the need for transparency, compliance, and accurate information dissemination to regain trust and establish robust regulatory frameworks.