EQONEX appoints ex-Binance as CEO while UK FCA voices concerns

Rick Steves

Jonathan Farnell will first put in place a framework for Bifinity to safeguard some of its client assets with EQONEX’s FCA registered custodian, Digivault, in compliance with all applicable regulatory requirements.

EQONEX has appointed ex-Binance Head of UK Jonathan Farnell as Chief Executive Officer in the follow up of a strategic partnership between the crypto exchange and Binance-backed payments firm Bifinity.

The digital assets financial services company has also added two new members to the EQONEX Board of Directors: Jonathan Farnell and Helen Hai, President of Bifinity.

The current interim CEO Andrew Eldon will revert back to his primary roles of Chief Operating Officer and interim Chief Marketing Officer. To give room to the new board members, Andrew Eldon and Paul Ewing, EQONEX Chief Financial Officer will step down from the EQONEX Board.

Bifinity will also nominate two additional senior leaders in the coming weeks, as it its right under the terms of the strategic partnership.

FCA voiced concerns over deal

Jonathan Farnell will first put in place a framework for Bifinity to safeguard some of its client assets with EQONEX’s FCA registered custodian, Digivault, in compliance with all applicable regulatory requirements.

This hasn’t kept the UK Financial Conduct Authority from voicing its concerns regarding the US$36 million loan to EQONEX in exchange for some specific contractual rights over Eqonex Limited.

Bifinity is the new legal name of an entity formerly called Binance UAB, which is part of the wider Binance Group. Eqonex Limited is the parent company of Digivault Limited, which is registered with the FCA under the Money Laundering Regulations (MLRs).

The transaction may have turned Binance individuals and entities into beneficial owners of Digivault for the purposes of the MLRs, said the regulator.

While the FCA did not have powers to assess the fitness and propriety of the new beneficial owners or the change in control, the financial watchdog has previously warned about the Binance Group, which includes Binance Markets Limited, an entity regulated by the FCA for a limited set of activities.

“Due to requirements imposed by the FCA, Binance Markets Limited is not currently permitted to undertake any regulated activities without the written consent of the FCA”, the agency said.

“This requirement was put in place because, in the FCA’s view, Binance Markets is not capable of being effectively supervised. This is particularly concerning in the context of Binance Markets’ membership of the global Binance group, which offers complex and high-risk financial products posing a significant risk to consumers.”

The FCA added that it can suspend or cancel the registration of a cryptoasset business if it is not satisfied the firm or its beneficial owner is fit and proper, but other grounds may apply, such as failure to comply with obligations under the Money Laundering Regulations.

“Until outstanding issues are addressed, the FCA’s concerns about Binance Markets Limited remain, including those highlighted in the supervisory notice of June 2021”, the regulator stressed.

Farnell joins EQONEX after Binance, Bifinity, and eToro

The partnership will see Bifinity developing ways to leverage the EQONEX Exchange as an alternative trading platform, according to the announcement.

Jonathan Farnell, who will lead the operation, was Head of Binance for the United Kingdom and CEO of Bifinity, and was involved in developing the company’s global regulatory license and registration roadmap.

His career includes roles such as Director of Compliance and Board Member of eToro Money, having also sat on the Board at eToroX, the Group’s crypto exchange and custody platform.

Helen Hai, President of Bifinity and member of the board at EQONEX, is the head of the NFT and fan token platforms at Binance.

Chi-Won Yoon, Chairman of EQONEX said: “We are delighted to welcome Jonathan to the EQONEX management team and Helen to our Board. Their appointments mark the next critical step in developing the Bifinity and EQONEX strategic partnership. I look forward to working with them closely to optimize our businesses and fulfill our joint vision to become a bridge between the old world of traditional finance and cryptocurrencies.”

Jonathan Farnell, CEO of EQONEX commented: “EQONEX was one of the crypto industry’s pioneering firms, leading the sector towards greater regulatory compliance and governance as a listed company. Now as we embark on this groundbreaking industry partnership, it’s particularly exciting to join EQONEX as it approaches such an important inflection point in its history.”

“We can already see the strengths and capabilities that we can harness between the two companies. EQONEX has an outstanding regulatory and licensing track record and market-leading expertise at identifying opportunities for institutions, which is most clearly evident when looking at the Digivault business that continues to attract institutions and law enforcement agencies. Coupled with its asset management business and exchange, the opportunity to create a full ecosystem by harnessing Bifinity’s technology, marketing clout and client base has the potential to be transformative for the industry.”

“EQONEX and Bifinity share the same ethos and vision to help create safe and compliant cryptocurrency ecosystems for consumers and institutions across the world. I’m looking forward to fostering true collaboration and productivity across both businesses across both teams.”

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