Binance France Announces New Shareholders Amid Regulatory Pressure

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Binance France has appointed new shareholders who now equally own 100% of the company. This move comes in response to a warning from the country’s Financial Markets Authority (AMF) issued in December.

The AMF’s warning was linked to issues involving the company’s original beneficial owner, Changpeng Zhao, and his entanglement with U.S. regulatory bodies including the Justice Department, Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. As a result, Zhao, the former CEO of Binance, has been compelled to divest his ownership in the company.

Zhao Withdraws from Binance France

According to a blog post, Zhao has already withdrawn from Binance France. This follows his guilty plea to U.S. charges in November, for which he has been sentenced to four months in prison. Notably, Zhao has not yet begun serving his prison term.

The identities of the new shareholders were not disclosed by the crypto exchange. However, the Pappers information service identified them as Lihua He and Yulong Yan. Both individuals are reportedly members of Binance’s founding team, with Yan being recognized as Allan Yan, the first product director. 

Allan Yan was also a co-founder of Bijie Tech, a company established by Zhao before Binance to provide software for cryptocurrency exchanges. Bijie Tech was shut down in 2017, the same year Binance was launched. Little information is available about Lihua He, as she is not mentioned in the firm’s white paper.

Complying with MiCA

This ownership change is crucial under the Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) regulations, which allow a company licensed in one European Union country to passport its license across all 27 member states. Binance had received AMF approval in May 2022, after operating illegally in France since 2020. Prior to this approval, the company was under investigation for potential Anti-Money Laundering (AML) violations.

Binance France has faced additional challenges, particularly in securing a banking partner. This difficulty was exacerbated following the CFTC’s lawsuit against the firm in March 2023. The regulatory scrutiny also contributed to an exodus of top executives from the company, including the departure of Binance France’s executive director, Stéphanie Cabossioras, in October 2023.

Binance Faces Regulatory Hurdles

The regulatory hurdles are not confined to France. In June 2023, Binance was denied a virtual asset service provider license in the Netherlands. Additionally, Belgian regulators ordered the closure of the firm’s operations in the country later that same month.

Despite these setbacks, Binance France continues to navigate the complex regulatory landscape. The company’s restructuring and compliance efforts reflect its commitment to adhering to regional regulations while striving to maintain its position in the competitive cryptocurrency market. The appointment of new shareholders and the continued efforts to secure regulatory approvals underscore Binance’s strategic maneuvers to stabilize and sustain its operations in Europe.

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