Binance compliance officers joked about Hamas transactions and AK-47s: CFTC

  • The CFTC said Binance compliance officers made jokes about possible criminal transactions.
  • When discussing “HAMAS payments”, an employee joked about the money needed to buy a gun, according to the CFTC.
  • “I can barely buy an AK-47 with $600,” the Binance employee wrote to his boss, according to the CFTC.

US regulators have accused Binance executives of joking in internal office discussions about illegal transactions that terrorists and criminals may have carried out on their crypto platform.

“Come on, they’re here for the crime,” Binance Chief Compliance Officer Samuel Lim wrote following a complaint filed Monday by the Commodities Futures and Trading Commission.

An anonymous employee with the title “Money Laundering Reporting Officer” replied, “We see the evil, but we close both eyes,” according to the complaint.

The conversation related to several Russian clients that Binance managed and took place during an internal office discussion in February 2020, according to the CFTC.

And when discussing “HAMAS transactions” in February 2019, Lim explained to another colleague that terrorists usually send “small amounts” of cash because “large amounts constitute money laundering”, according to the complaint. In 1997, the US State Department designated HAMAS as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

“I can barely buy an AK-47 with $600,” the colleague replied, the CFTC reported.

The complaint said Lim described a compliance audit of Binance as an “individual half-geo (fence) sub-audit” to “buy us more time.”

“I HAVE NO CONFIDENCE IN OUR GEOFENCING,” the money laundering reporting officer wrote to Lim during this audit, according to the complaint.

She also wrote that she “should write a bogus MLRO annual report to the Binance wtf board,” the CFTC said.

“Yes, it’s okay, I can get management to sign off,” Lim replied, per the CFTC’s complaint.

“Lim’s internal discussions with compliance colleagues illustrate that Binance condoned the use of the platform by Binance customers to facilitate ‘illicit activities,'” the CFTC complaint said.

Binance is being sued by the CFTC, which has accused the exchange, its CEO Changpeng Zhao and Lim of violating US financial laws and attempting to dodge regulations. The government agency seeks to ban Binance from registering and trading in the United States.

“The defendants’ own emails and chats reflect that Binance’s compliance efforts were a sham and that Binance deliberately chose – time and time again – to place profits rather than comply with the law,” said Gretchen Lowe, Senior Deputy Director of the CFTC’s Enforcement Division and Chief Counsel in a statement Monday.

In a Tuesday statement, Zhao said the CFTC complaint “appears to contain an incomplete statement of facts” and took issue with “the characterization of many of the issues alleged in the complaint.”

In an email to Insider, a Binance spokesperson called the prosecutors’ filing “unexpected and disappointing,” but added that the exchange intended to “continue to collaborate” with U.S. regulators. The representative did not respond to questions about specific allegations made by prosecutors regarding possible Hamas-related dealings.


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