On March 27th, the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) filed a suit against Binance, accusing the crypto exchange of regulatory violations. The accusation, however, did not come without warning. Shortly before the indictment was made public, almost a billion dollars worth of cryptocurrency was reportedly withdrawn from Binance’s wallets. According to data from Thanefield Capital, the withdrawals were substantial and occurred within hours of the announcement.
In the 12 hours leading up to the indictment, a total of almost $1.5 billion was withdrawn from platforms such as Binance, Kraken, Coinbase, and Bitfinex. Of that amount, more than half, or $850 million, was withdrawn from Binance alone. One hour after the announcement, Binance saw an additional $240 million withdrawn. According to data from Nansen, in the past 24 hours, more than $400 million in Ethereum-based funds were withdrawn.
Despite the withdrawals, Binance still holds an impressive $63.36 billion worth of cryptocurrency assets. These assets include over $2 billion worth of Tether (USDT), $17 billion worth of Bitcoin (BTC), and $8.1 billion worth of Ether (ETH).
The CFTC’s accusations against Binance and its CEO Changpeng Zhao include failing to meet regulatory obligations by not properly registering with the derivatives regulator. The CFTC alleges that Binance conducted transactions in Bitcoin, Ether, and Litecoin for U.S. citizens since at least 2019. This investigation by the CFTC is not the only regulatory scrutiny that Binance has faced in recent times.
Binance has also been investigated by the Internal Revenue Service and federal prosecutors over its adherence to Anti-Money Laundering rules. Additionally, the Securities and Exchange Commission conducted its own inquiry into whether Binance allowed U.S. traders to access unregistered securities.
In response to the CFTC’s allegations, Binance’s CEO, Changpeng Zhao, has denied any wrongdoing. He argues that Binance “does not trade for profit or ‘manipulate’ the market under any circumstances.” Despite the denial, the regulatory scrutiny and the recent withdrawals may lead to a tumultuous time ahead for Binance and the wider cryptocurrency market.