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Binance is 'not capable' of being effectively supervised and is a significant risk to consumers, says UK financial regulator

Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance, speaks at the Delta Summit, Malta's official Blockchain and Digital Innovation event promoting cryptocurrency, in St Julian's, Malta October 4, 2018.REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi

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Binance, the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange, is "not capable" of being effectively supervised, according to the UK's financial regulator. 

The Financial Conduct Authority in an 11-page notice published Wednesday said Binance Markets Limited, a London-based affiliate of Binance, failed to supply further information about its business model and wider product offerings, among other requests.

"This is of particular concern in the context of the firm's membership of a global group which offers complex and high-risk financial products, which pose a significant risk to consumers," the notice said.

In response to the FCA's first inquiry into its business, Binance said: "We do not consider these questions to be appropriate, or in any way relevant, to BML's application."

The cryptocurrency exchange added its website is operated outside of the UK and therefore does not fall under the country's regulations concerning money laundering, terrorist financing, and transfer of funds.

But the fact that Binance's main exchange is not UK-based is a problem for the watchdog because people living in the country can still trade cryptocurrency products that otherwise won't be allowed via Binance's broader platform. 

"The FCA considers that the firm's responses to some questions amounted to a refusal to supply information, and that the firm has failed to respond adequately to the FCA's information requirements," the notice said.

Binance, which was founded in 2017, does not have a formal headquarters. While it was founded in China and officially domiciled in the Cayman Islands, the firm is mostly present online, something authorities have taken issue with.

The FCA in June banned Binance's UK-based marketplace from conducting activity without written consent and has issued a warning to potential investors, telling them to be "wary" of promises of big returns.

The watchdog also took issue with Binance's lack of approved senior officials and its stock tokens, which the exchange stopped offering just three months after launching them. 

In recent months, Binance has been slapped with multiple warnings, and in some jurisdictions, has been banned from operating due to its failure to register with local regulators.

The company has faced scrutiny from CanadaJapanGermanyThailand, Italy, and the Cayman Islands, among others.

In the US, Binance is reportedly under investigation by the Department of Justice the the IRS. 

Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao in July said his firm will be "fully compliant" to protect its users.


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