Cryptocurrency exchange Binance’s French business is reportedly under investigation for “aggravated” money laundering and the illegal provision of digital asset services, according to the Paris public prosecutor’s office cited by CoinDesk. 

See related article: SEC lawsuit sees Binance.US wobble, trading platforms delist cryptos

Fast facts

  • Binance’s French unit has been accused of illegally operating as a digital asset service provider in the country, despite the crypto exchange being registered as a digital asset service provider with France’s markets regulator since May 2022.
  • An investigation into Binance carried out in February 2022 led to a referral to the anti-financial crime unit of the French government, and the evidence collected during the investigation will be subject to an in-depth study, according to CoinDesk.
  • “In France, surprise (no advanced notice) on-site inspections of regulated businesses are the norm, for banks, and now for crypto too. The surprise visit for Binance France happened a couple of weeks ago. It’s not “news”. Binance France cooperated fully,” Changpeng Zhao, chief executive officer of Binance, tweeted on Friday. “Binance also isn’t the only crypto business inspected. This happened to other well-known crypto businesses in Paris too. Binance France continues to be our flagship center in Europe.”
  • The report comes hours after Binance announced that it will leave the Dutch market, as it could not register as a virtual asset service provider with the country’s regulator.
  • Binance.US was sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission last week, for charges related to securities violations. The agency’s motion to freeze the exchange’s assets was denied by a federal judge on Wednesday and the two parties have been ordered to continue negotiations.
  • Binance’s cryptocurrency BNB fell 1.31% to US$233.56 in the hour leading up to 7:50 p.m. in Hong Kong. The token fell under the US$300 mark last Monday after the SEC announced its lawsuit against the world’s largest exchange.

See related article: BlackRock files for spot Bitcoin ETF, taps Coinbase as custodian