Binance Undergoes Transformation: CEO Richard Teng Shares Insights in Exclusive Interview

December 20, 2023 1:12 PM
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Binance Undergoes Transformation: CEO Richard Teng Shares Insights in Exclusive Interview

In an exclusive conversation with Cointelegraph, Binance's new CEO, Richard Teng, discusses the exchange's future trajectory post a landmark $4.3 billion settlement with U.S. authorities.

Teng, who stepped into the CEO role on Nov. 21 succeeding Changpeng Zhao (CZ), stated that the compliance issues that once plagued Binance are now a thing of the past, emphasizing that the crypto exchange has undergone a significant transformation.

"Following the settlement, CZ is prohibited from involvement in the company's day-to-day operations," Teng clarified.

Despite this change, the current CEO appears enthusiastic about the challenges ahead. Just weeks into his tenure, Teng expresses a keen interest in steering the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange:

"I'm taking the reins and driving forward our growth agenda, closely collaborating with global regulators."

He suggests that the shadow that loomed over Binance due to various U.S. regulatory violations is lifting after the substantial $4.3 billion settlement.

Early Compliance Oversights Result in Historic Settlement

Reflecting on the exchange's rapid growth since 2017, Teng acknowledges compliance gaps during Binance's nascent stages. He attributes historical breaches and mistakes to these early shortcomings.

"In the early days of building the company, compliance gaps led to these errors," Teng stated.

However, Teng reassures that despite these issues, Binance has always prioritized user fund security, highlighting that the settlement was reached without any allegations of misappropriation of user funds.

U.S. Obligations and Ongoing Compliance Focus

Post-settlement, Binance faces ongoing scrutiny and expenses. This includes a five-year oversight and substantial compliance obligations ensuring Binance's complete exit from the U.S.

While refraining from specifics regarding Binance.US's legal tussle with the SEC, Teng asserts the company's preparedness to meet the settlement's terms and handle the SEC case expenses.

Details about the $4.3 billion penalty's payment remain undisclosed due to confidentiality agreements, with Binance reportedly processing the assessment while CZ will personally settle a separate case.

Clarification on Recent Fund Movement and Fair Treatment

Teng addressed the recent movement of $3.9 billion in Tether (USDT), clarifying that it's unrelated to settlement matters with the U.S. Justice Department.

Regarding allegations of unequal treatment compared to traditional finance firms, Teng remarked on the commonality of fines within the financial sector. He avoided delving into whether Binance was being made an example but emphasized its rigorous compliance stance across 18 jurisdictions.

Enhanced Compliance Focus and Geographic Expansion

Emphasizing the heightened focus on compliance, Teng discussed strategic talent acquisition tailored for regulatory navigation across multiple jurisdictions. He highlighted the heavy investment in compliance and the caliber of talent, including ex-SEC and traditional finance professionals.

Binance now operates regional hubs in the UAE and France. Teng emphasized the UAE's importance due to its conducive regulatory framework and the EU's Markets in Crypto-Assets regulation, fostering Binance's growth prospects in Europe.

Stepping into CZ's Role

Acknowledging the challenge of filling CZ's shoes, Teng conveyed admiration for the founder-CEO's leadership. He recognized his inability to replicate CZ's role but stressed the need for fresh approaches in Binance's maturation.

"As CEO, I bring my values and expertise to a transformed Binance," Teng expressed.

Outside work, Teng maintains a balanced routine with exercises and books, citing Elon Musk's biography as his recent read.

For the full interview, tune in to Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or your preferred podcast platform to catch the conversation between Cointelegraph and Richard Teng.