- Binance’s French unit is being investigated by local authorities in France for allegedly providing digital asset services illegally and engaging in aggravated money laundering activities.
- The investigation revolves around the suspicion that Binance operated as a digital asset service provider without regulatory approval and participated in investment operations, concealment, and conversion associated with offenses that generated profits.
The Paris public prosecutor’s office has confirmed that an investigation has been initiated against Binance’s French unit, focusing on the provision of digital asset services and acts of aggravated money laundering. The investigation centers on allegations that Binance operated as a digital asset service provider before receiving regulatory approval in May 2022. It is also suspected of being involved in investment operations, concealment, and conversion activities linked to offenses that resulted in profits.
This investigation comes as Binance is already facing a lawsuit from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for allegedly failing to register as a trading platform and conducting the sale of unregistered securities. The French unit is believed to have targeted French customers through its local arm, operating outside the legal framework until 2022.
The specialized interregional jurisdiction of Paris initiated the investigation and referred the case to the SEJF, an anti-financial crime arm of the government, in February 2022. The collected documentary and computer evidence will undergo thorough examination as part of the investigation.
Binance has stated that it continues to cooperate with regulators and law enforcement agencies to meet compliance requirements and uphold high standards. The company emphasizes its commitment to abiding by all laws in France and other markets where it operates. Binance’s CEO, Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, confirmed that authorities conducted a surprise visit in the past weeks but noted that other crypto firms had also experienced similar actions. He further reiterated France’s significance as Binance’s flagship center in Europe.
This development adds to Binance’s recent decision to cease operations in the Netherlands due to the company’s failure to obtain an anti-money laundering (AML) license. Binance has also applied to terminate its registration with Cyprus’ securities regulator, signaling a shift in focus towards fewer regulated entities in the European Union (EU).
The investigation in France reflects the increased attention on cryptocurrency exchanges and their compliance with anti-money laundering measures. As the EU prepares to regulate the crypto industry under the Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) framework, France has been actively courting crypto firms, positioning itself as a key hub for the crypto ecosystem in Europe and beyond.