In a plea for a more crypto-friendly UK watchdog, he added: “Binance has just announced its European headquarters in Paris for Heaven.” He also spoke at the private members’ club, Crypto Club Global. Hancock said he did not own any cryptocurrency and declined it when offered.
Binance is an “institutional member” of the CryptoUK lobby group, which is worth up to £20,000, according to a brochure. CryptoUK helps run the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Crypto and Digital Assets, which it has funded with up to £46,000 this year.
Its efforts are not limited to the UK. In the United States, the independent American division of Binance has launched a “Political Action Committee.” These groups are usually used to fund legislation or make donations to politicians.
In the European Union, transparency disclosures show that they have bolstered lobbying efforts. Last year, it spent more than half a million euros courting Brussels before the European Union introduced a new law to regulate cryptocurrencies.
Among Binance’s UK advisors is PR firm Hawthorn, which previously represented Chinese tech giant Huawei as it battled the UK’s 5G ban. It has recruited heavily in Britain to bring in legal and regulatory experts. In April, it hired Stephen McWhirter, a former Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) enforcer.
Binance’s Heilman insists that the company has no plans to “spend handsomely on political giveaways.” Bankman-Fried, the disgraced FTX boss, is now known to have donated more than $40 million to US Democrats in an effort to woo them.
Despite its efforts to ease concerns, Binance has come under fire from UK regulators. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has issued three statements warning about its activities. In June 2021, Binance blocked the launch of a UK division.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said the company refused to disclose the company behind its Binance.com website. The regulator issued further warnings in February, about a deal between Binance and a British payments company, and in March about a potential takeover.
Since it was banned, the crypto company has re-applied for a UK license. He told MPs he had been in talks with regulators for more than a year.
Some MPs have questioned Binance’s role in FTX’s demise. Days before its collapse, Zhao said he plans to sell $500 million in FTX-developed tokens. Its price has fallen. He also backtracked on his plans to acquire FTX.
Harriet Baldwin, MP on the Treasury Committee, said: “It must have been clear when this decision was taken that it would likely cause FTX to collapse.” Binance denied this.
The FTX failure exposed a web of apparent fraudulent activity, including misuse of customer deposits, though Bankman-Fried denies any wrongdoing.
Regardless, the demise of its biggest competitor is likely to make the authorities more cautious about allowing another offshore exchange to reach UK consumers.
“This takes the industry back a few years,” Daniel Trinder, the firm’s London-based head of public policy, admitted to MPs last month.
“Cryptocurrency exchanges now face a huge challenge to mitigate regulators’ concerns as confidence in the market has fallen dramatically.
“Binance has been less than expected in a number of cases about its management and who is actually in control. This has undoubtedly caused concern to regulators.” Binance says the company is undergoing a process of restructuring and streamlining its business.
However, Hillman claims that the UK could fall behind in cryptocurrencies if it moves too slowly to regulate digital currencies. “It would be a historical miscalculation to allow cryptocurrencies to continue to circulate in mainland Europe without having some kind of footprint in the UK,” he says.
The latest challenges facing Binance include possible US criminal charges. Hillman says The company can’t prejudge the outcome of the investigations, but adds: “U.S. regulators have a wide range of investigations in the industry. We’re the largest, so obviously we’ll be part of some of the inquiries.”
This week, Zhao was evasive when asked if he would visit the United States anytime soon. He said: “I am very busy, I am not against traveling to the United States.”
This has “caused tension between retail and institutional users,” said Andrew Thurman, a cryptocurrency analyst at Nansen.
Zhao downplayed the money out, insisting that the company’s deposits are individually backed, unlike FTX which wasted clients’ money on riskier investments.
John Ray, the man responsible for the failed stock exchange restructuring, described the FTX failure last week as “old-fashioned embezzlement,” run by “incompetent and inexperienced” kids. Executives spent lavishly on penthouses and boats before their demise.
Zhao is now trying to portray Binance as the mature face of cryptocurrency.
“Binance operates a completely different kind of business,” Heilman says. “There are no yachts on Binance.”
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