Senator Elizabeth Warren, a well-known cryptocurrency critic, has asked the US Department of Justice to investigate whether Binance provided false information to Congress. Along with Senator Chris Van Hollen, Warren alleged that Binance may have violated the law by claiming that Binance and Binance.US are independent entities and that Binance.US prioritizes regulatory compliance. These claims form the core of 13 charges recently filed against Binance by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The SEC accused Binance and its CEO Changpeng Zhao of exercising hidden control over Binance.US and misleading investors about trading controls on the US platform, which the SEC described as “non-existent”. Realizing 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 a landmark congressional investigation into the cryptocurrency industry. Senators emphasized that this behavior undermined the legislative process and called for an investigation that could potentially lead to fines and prison terms under federal law.
Back in March, Warren and Van Hollen previously contacted Binance, Zhao, and Binance.US with a series of questions regarding company structure, compliance with anti-money laundering regulations, and the relationship between Binance and Binance.US. In response, Binance Communications Officer Patrick Hillmann, who has since left the company, confirmed in a letter that Binance and Binance.US are separate entities. Hillmann clarified that while both platforms are ultimately owned by Changpeng Zhao and he serves on the board of Binance.US, the two exchanges are independent and not subsidiaries of each other.
The allegations filed by Warren and Van Hollen, along with those filed by the SEC, have increased the pressure on Binance. A thorough investigation into the veracity of the information provided to Congress will be critical in determining the extent of the error. As the situation unfolds, the cryptocurrency industry continues to face scrutiny from regulators, highlighting the need for transparency, compliance and dissemination of accurate information to regain trust and build a strong regulatory framework.