This week, Binance agreed to a $4.3 billion settlement and saw founder Changpeng Zhao exit as CEO; the U.S. SEC levels charges against Kraken; and HECO Bridge, another venture affiliated with Justin Sun, suffered an $85 million hack.
- On Nov. 20, the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) proposed a $4 billion settlement with Binance, addressing allegations related to money laundering and sanction violations.
- Binance founder Changpeng Zhao resigned due to the criminal charges. Uncertainty regarding extradition emerged, as Zhao currently resides in the United Arab Emirates.
- Binance’s influence within the crypto sector is still undeniable; Blur’s recent listing on Binance, for example, triggered an upward move in its price.
- Meanwhile, Binance’s BNB token plummeted 9.2% in 24 hours. Binance also witnessed outflows amounting to $1.3 billion in a seven-day period amid the reports.
- In a Nov. 23 report, CryptoQuant confirmed that some of these funds leaving Binance were making their way to Coinbase Pro. Another factor driving the shift in funds was the anticipation of a spot Bitcoin (BTC) ETF in the U.S.
- These outflows from Binance were primarily due to widespread concerns on the heels of the $4.3 billion fine. Coinbase director Conor Grogan explained that Binance’s proof of reserves confirms the company can settle the fine without leveraging users’ funds.
- Binance’s newly-appointed CEO Richard Teng affirmed Grogan’s disclosure, reiterating that the company remains financially strong amid the current legal woes.
- Zhao will face his sentencing in a U.S. court on Feb. 23, 2024. The DoJ has pushed to keep Zhao in the U.S., preventing him from heading back to the UAE before the sentencing, citing him as a “flight risk.”
- Zhao’s legal time replied to the DoJ’s petition on Nov. 24, calling attention to the former CEO’s willingness to take responsibility for the charges against Binance. They suggested that Zhao does not pose a flight risk, and he is allowed to go back to the UAE and face home arrest and community confinement.
HECO bridge suffers $83M hack
- On Nov. 22, HECO bridge, a product of crypto entrepreneur Justin Sun’s HTX exchange, suffered a breach that saw a loss of $85 million. In addition, HTX also suffered an unauthorized outflow of $12.4 million.
- Amid the troubles, HTX paused withdrawals and promised its customers it would gradually open them on Nov. 23. However, the exchange failed to keep to this promise on the selected date, raising further concerns.
- As customers await the resumption of deposits and withdrawals, Sun channeled his inner benevolence in a Nov. 24 post on X. He announced an airdrop for HTX and Poloniex customers in the wake of the hack incidents.
Bankman-Fried’s leave request denied, Do Kwon extradition approved
- This week, FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried’s request to gain release before his sentencing date was denied by a U.S. Court of Appeals. The court called attention to Bankman-Fried’s record of attempting to tamper with the testimony of witnesses in the past.
- On the other hand, Terra founder Do Kwon, currently in Montenegro, will be on the move soon. On Nov. 24, a Montenegrin court approved requests from South Korea and the U.S. to extradite Do Kwon, so he could face charges in these countries.
SEC comes for Kraken amid regulatory efforts
- Besides Binance, U.S. agencies came for Kraken this week. Interestingly, the U.S. SEC alleged that the trading platform Kraken is offering unlicensed securities services.
- Kraken noted that it would face the SEC in court.
- Amid these enforcement actions, House Majority Whip Tom Emmer claimed the U.S. Congress does not need to review existing financial laws to accommodate the crypto industry. According to him, the current laws are sufficient to fish out bad actors.
- While the U.S. discussed its crypto regulatory landscape, Argentina voted in a Bitcoin advocate to address the growing inflation in the country. Javier Milei’s victory in this week’s presidential elections triggered speculation of another Bitcoin-friendly nation like El Salvador.
Updates on ETF discussions
- Meanwhile, the crypto community saw some updates on the ETF discussions. Bloomberg ETF analyst James Seyffart revealed that BlackRock and Grayscale, both with pending ETF applications, met with the SEC this week.
- Shortly after the meeting, Grayscale updated its ETF filing with the SEC, revealing plans to convert the GBTC Trust to a spot BTC ETF with the ticker BTC.
- Optimism within the community was rekindled by comments from SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce. According to Peirce, there is no justifiable reason for the SEC to object to a spot BTC ETF.
Hackers steal $290 million in November
- In addition to the HECO bridge hack, the crypto scene witnessed several other attacks. One of these incidents involved the KyberSwap DEX, which lost $45 million to an exploit on Nov. 22.
- Amid the exploits, consolidated data from Lookonchain disclosed that crypto protocols have lost $290 million to hackers in November alone. These exploits include the Poloniex, HTX and HECO bridge attacks, and the KyberSwap and Kronos Research hacks.
- As hacks and scams gained steam, a disclosure from the Tether underscored the government’s fight against these bad actors. Tether froze $225 million in USDT in a DoJ enforcement action. The funds were linked to a $3.3 billion scam scheme last year.
Blast commands a $310 million inflow
- The chaos of this week did not impede the growth of Blast, a new layer-2 protocol on Ethereum (ETH). Shortly after launch, the L2 network recorded over $310 million in inflows, suggesting an impressive growth rate.