Binance (BNB-USD), while enjoying its status as the world’s largest crypto exchange, must reckon with the trade-off that comes with this status. A target is painted on its back by regulators around the world. One of the agencies most determined to be an enforcer within the digital asset space is none other than the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The SEC has been publicly targeting smaller fish, but behind the scenes, it looks like it has been going after Binance for some time now.
A report by Reuters suggests the SEC has been picking up on Binance’s scent for the better part of two years. According to the outlet, the agency has been requesting internal documents from Binance since at least late 2020.
The specific request coming into the public eye this week regards more insight into the company’s anti-money laundering checks. It also looks for internal communications from Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, a very vocal figurehead for the crypto industry at-large. 12 other Binance executives’ communications were additionally requested.
It’s worth noting Binance and Binance.US are separate entities, with the latter serving only American customers. Since this request by the SEC was made, Binance appointed Brian Shroder as its Binance.US CEO.
This news makes sense, given it was around this time the SEC’s crypto interest had just become public. The request dates back to December of 2020 — the same month it opened up a lawsuit against Ripple (XRP-USD). It also shows the depth of their interest at this time; while the Ripple suit deals with the classification of assets, it’s now proven the SEC was also attuned to the illicit nature of blockchain over two years ago.
Binance News Shows the SEC Has Been Hot on Crypto’s Trail
The Binance news proves the SEC has been keeping tabs on crypto for much longer than investors might have expected. After all, other industries are only just becoming hip to the space. It took until February of this year for the FBI to create a crypto task force, for example. Now that it is firmly entrenched in the space, the SEC is really starting to take exchanges to task.
Last month, a staffer for pro-crypto Senator Cynthia Lummis said the SEC was investigating every single U.S. exchange. They also added Binance is in the crosshairs, even as a non-U.S. entity.
That’s certainly proving true. On top of this week’s news about the earlier probes, it has been stacking up other investigations into the company. In June, news broke that the agency was looking into the BNB crypto, the native coin of the exchange. This investigation is facing much criticism from Zhao.
Even when it is not an explicit target of investigations, Binance is very reactionary to news pertaining to the SEC and crypto. In July, the exchange de-listed the Amp (AMP-USD) token in response to an investigation into Coinbase (NASDAQ:COIN). The SEC accused the company of completing an unregistered security offering through its AMP listing. Binance dumped the token in order to keep itself distanced from more tumult with the U.S. government.
Whether the 2020 investigation is still ongoing or related to the comments by Lummis’ staffer is anybody’s guess. Though, as aggressive as the SEC has been with targeting more and more crypto companies, investors might see this question answered soon.
On the date of publication, Brenden Rearick did not have (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.