From Russia to Iran, the feds have charged Binance with allegedly conducting well over $1 billion in transactions with sanctioned countries and criminal actors.
Today, in a set of accusations that will rock the already tumultuous world of crypto, the US Department of Justice revealed criminal charges against the company and its chief executive, Changpeng Zhao, claiming they enabled the laundering of vast flows of dirty money across the globe, from Cuba to Iran to Russia.
The charging documents describe a company that allegedly turned a blind eye, sometimes willfully and knowingly, prosecutors claim, to the trading of funds from sanctioned countries and regions like Iran, Cuba, Syria, and Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine such as Crimea and Donbas, as well as the now defunct criminal dark-web market Hydra.
The indictment alleges, for instance, that Binance allowed more than 1.1 million transactions between US persons and Iranians—each one an alleged sanctions violation—totaling to a value of nearly $900 million.
Even once Binance appeared to enact more stringent know-your-customer rules for users in 2021, the indictment alleges, the company often ignored sanctions violations or knowingly allowed users to circumvent its money-laundering checks. More than 12,500 users, the indictment claims, listed Iranian phone numbers on their accounts but were allowed to continue trading on the exchange.