Binance fires on CFTC’s overreach as CZ not US resident

abdelaziz Fathi

Cryptocurrency exchange Binance and its CEO, Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, have filed a request for the dismissal of a lawsuit brought against them by the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

According to a court filing on July 27, CZ’s legal team argued that the CFTC has overstepped its regulatory authority and engaged in regulatory overreach. The basis of this argument is that Binance does not operate in the United States, and CZ does not reside over there.

The filing asserts that the CFTC is attempting to regulate foreign individuals and corporations operating outside the United States, which exceeds the boundaries of its statutory jurisdiction and interferes with established principles of comity with foreign sovereigns.

According to the motion, Binance and CZ argue that spot trading, which involves the direct exchange of one cryptocurrency for another without leveraging futures contracts, does not fall under the purview of the CFTC’s regulatory authority.

Moreover, the motion questions whether should be held accountable to specific registration and compliance provisions in the CEA and CFTC regulations, given its initial restriction on serving U.S. users in 2019.

In response to the CFTC complaint, the defendants sought permission to exceed the standard 15-page limit on supporting briefs, citing the complexity of the case and the number of arguments they anticipate making.

The motion to dismiss the lawsuit further reads:

“There is no dispute that the CFTC has no regulatory authority over spot trading even in the United States, let alone abroad. The issue posed by the CFTC’s complaint is whether, when Binance․com began offering additional products in or after 2019—by which point it had already begun to restrict and off-board potential U.S. users—it became subject to certain registration and regulatory compliance provisions of the Commodity Exchange Act (“CEA”) and CFTC regulations. Despite 236 paragraphs of allegations – which followed a multi-year investigation in which defendants provided extensive information voluntarily – the CFTC’s complaint fails at the outset.”

Among other things, the CFTC accuses Binance of secretly coaching its US deep-pocket users on how to evade compliance controls in order to maximize corporate profits.

CFTC chairman Rostin Behnam said earlier that Binance and its operatives knew for years that they were violating US securities laws, working actively to keep the money flowing and avoid compliance. He added that defendant’s emails and chats reflect that their compliance practices have been a sham.

Earlier in April, a CFTC commissioner said the regulator hopes to find a “path forward” in its ongoing legal dispute involving Binance and its CEO, but a decision has not yet been made on whether to settle the charges or take the case to court.

The watchdog was reportedly engaged in discussions with Binance on the complaint it filed against the exchange and its executives, alleging that they solicited American investors to participate in crypto trading in violation of the law.

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