Crypto exchange Binance faces legal probe in France

French prosecutors announced Friday they had opened an investigation into Binance, adding to the legal woes of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange.

The probe, led by the Paris prosecutor’s office, will look into allegations the French arm of Binance traded illegally in digital assets as well as a separate charge of “aggravated money laundering”, a statement said.

Le Monde newspaper, which first reported the probe, said the company is suspected of failing to respect obligations to ensure its clients were not using the platform for money-laundering.

The news follows a move from the US Securities and Exchange Commission which announced this month that it had charged the crypto giant with securities law violations that it said amounted to “an extensive web of deception” and “calculated evasion of the law”.

Binance said afterwards that it was halting US dollar deposits and encouraged clients to withdraw their dollars by early next week.

Referring to the French allegations, the company said on Twitter that it had had an “on-site visit last week by the relevant authorities”.

“Binance invests considerable time and resources into cooperating with law enforcement globally. We abide by all laws in France, just as we do in every other market we operate,” it added.

The platform, created in Shanghai in 2017, has cornered much of the crypto-trading market, turning its globe-trotting founder Changpeng Zhao into a billionaire.

But it has long been accused of facilitating money laundering, setting up complex structures to avoid regulation, and busting sanctions — claims it denies. (AFP)