• As regulators circle, Binance CEO hints at hiring his own replacement

  • Last week, Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao revealed that he is considering appointing himself as the next CEO of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange.

    “Right now, I’m seeking a senior executive with a strong compliance and regulatory expertise to oversee the entire group, possibly as the future Binance CEO,” CZ stated. “I’m a tech entrepreneur; I’ve been running the firm for four years, and it’s doing well, but we need to pivot. I don’t think I’m the best person to lead that effort. I believe that having someone with solid regulatory expertise is preferable.”

    His remarks occurred during a virtual summit with Mukaya Panich, chief investment officer at SCB 10X, Thailand’s Siam Commercial Bank’s venture arm. In the same interview, he talked about his plans to go public with Binance US.

    In recent months, Binance has made a slew of high-profile recruits, some of which have come as a result of the exchange’s tumultuous interactions with several of the world’s financial regulators. Former US financial regulator Brian Brooks was chosen the new CEO of Binance US in April, in what was viewed as a ploy to appease lawmakers; earlier this month, it hired Jonathan Farnell, formerly of eToro, as Binance’s new director of compliance.

    Is CZ getting ready to abandon ship?

    CZ’s earlier regulatory rhetoric has been a fascinating trip.

    CZ spoke about the crypto industry’s broad engagement with authorities during a Clubhouse session in April of this year. CZ remarked at the time, “If I were the regulator, the most reasonable thing I would do is look at the existing regulations in the traditional banking industry and apply them to crypto.”

    Companies must be licensed to function in the jurisdictions where they do business, according to one of the most basic and common elements of those “existing regulations.” CZ, on the other hand, has never stated where Binance is based, claiming that the company is really decentralized and has no headquarters and that no one can agree on a single definition of a corporate headquarters nowadays.

    “Everyone has a somewhat different definition of a company’s headquarters. Is it an office where people sit when you ask how you define headquarters? He told us at this year’s Ethereal Virtual Summit, “I worked from home for the last three and a half years.”

    That style of thinking might appeal to cryptocurrency aficionados, who are naturally drawn to the benefits of decentralization. However, it has not been well received by the world’s regulators.

    According to a representative for the Financial Conduct Authority in the United Kingdom, the regulator has a “big concern” with Binance’s apparent lack of a headquarters.

    Binance has also run afoul of regulators in Italy, Japan, and the Cayman Islands in recent months. Banks, payment processors, and even competitor exchanges like FTX, which bought out Binance’s shares in an obvious bid to distance itself from the exchange, have all slammed the exchange.

    It’s unclear whether CZ has any plans to leave Binance anytime soon. Binance has been contacted by us for more information. However, if CZ steps down as CEO of the enormous company he built, his successor will have a lot on their plate and would have to prioritize communicating with lawmakers.

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