By Geoffrey Smith
Investing.com — Binance maintained employees and operations in China for years after it said it had closed down there, the Financial Times reported on Wednesday.
Citing internal documents and chats. the FT said that Binance – which only acknowledges registered offices in Singapore, Malta and Uganda – had kept on numerous staff in Shanghai despite regulatory moves by the Chinese government to restrict cryptocurrency.
The claims flatly contradict the repeated claims of Binance founder Changpeng Zhao not to operate in a country where there has been a blanket ban on crypto trading since 2021.
Binance accused the FT of citing “ancient history” and “mischaracterising” events.
The documents cited by the FT indicate that Binance had payroll schemes for staff in Shanghai as late as 2019, including a recruitment team, albeit one that had to conceal its existence. It cited one employee as sending a message to colleagues warning them not to wear any branded apparel or accessories around the Shanghai office, saying “It is strictly prohibited.”
The FT said its documents didn’t reveal whether the office, which was in operation until November 2019 at least, still exists. It quoted one unnamed former employee as saying that many of its key developers still work out of China.
The revelations come only days after the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission charged Binance and Zhao personally with illegally providing trading services in the U.S., the charges being based on a trove of internal communications in which senior management including Zhao stressed the need for U.S.-based customers to log on via virtual private networks to conceal their location.
The FT said its source material also pointed to the systematic use of VPNs for the same purpose in China.