Binance (BNB-USD) has stoked the ire of U.S. regulators time and again. The international crypto monolith represents the largest exchange and one of the most popular suites of DeFi services available today. With the company driving such magnitude within the space, these regulators are looking for fault lines by way of illegal activity. Now, one such investigation is winding down and the U.S. Department of Justice is weighing its options for how to proceed.
One of the longest investigations into Binance’s business is that of the Justice Department’s probe. Starting in 2018, the government agency has been exploring whether Binance operated in compliance with U.S. anti-money laundering regulations. The probe was not known to the public until 2021 and, until details began emerging in September, little had been revealed about it.
Specifically, the Justice Department probe explores whether Binance violated the Bank Secrecy Act by improperly monitoring and responding to illegal transactions. Another aspect of the probe deals with how the company has recruited U.S. customers. It’s worth noting that in 2019, Binance ceased operations in the U.S., instead founding Binance.US to service American customers. This business, complete with its own executive team, is meant to keep Binance out of trouble with U.S. regulators for selling cryptos which might be considered securities.
In the time since this investigation kicked off, Binance has seen heavy scrutiny for enabling hacker groups to launder ill-gotten crypto through its exchange. As the Justice Department winds down its probe, though, there seems to be a divide on what to do next.
Binance Probe Has Regulators Split Over Whether to Press Charges
Four years and plenty of requests for internal documents later and prosecutors are ready to adjourn the Binance investigation. However, there seems to be a snag. The department can’t decide whether to press charges.
Indeed, a report by Reuters on Monday shows that the years-long investigation has run its course and the Justice Department is ready to move on. However, it also shows that prosecutors are delaying its conclusion. Specifically, there appears to be a split over whether or not to charge the company and its executives.
Of the six-plus federal prosecutors involved in the case, only about half are looking to press charges so far. These prosecutors reportedly assert that the Justice Department holds enough evidence to charge Binance with violating the Bank Secrecy Act. Some are also calling for individual charges against CEO Changpeng Zhao. These potential charges include money laundering conspiracy, unlicensed money transmission and criminal sanctions violations. Several other prosecutors have said the department needs more evidence before pursuing the charges, however.
In addition to this, the report from Reuters also reveals details surrounding Binance’s legal team and its conversations with prosecutors over the past several months. The company’s lawyers are reportedly arguing against the charges in the context of the current state of the crypto market. They say the news would “wreak havoc on a crypto market already in a prolonged downturn.”
This news all comes just weeks after a blockbuster report into Binance’s business in the sanctioned nation of Iran. The company has been found to have processed more than $8 billion worth of transactions for customers in Iran, despite the country being sanctioned. With so few details known about the Justice Department’s probe, investors can’t know for sure whether this news is being considered in prosecutors’ deliberations.
On the date of publication, Brenden Rearick did not hold (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.