Reuters reports Binance bypassed US restrictions to serve Iranians

According to a Reuters report, the largest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, knowingly violated US sanctions by servicing customers in Iran.

CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) replied to the report on Twitter, stating that the exchange utilised Thomson Reuters World-Check data to screen consumers, so implying that Reuters’ know-your-customer (KYC) service was insufficient in banning Iranian users.

In an exclusive investigation published on Monday, Reuters disclosed that at least 18 Iranians claimed to have traded cryptocurrencies through Binance after the United States renewed sanctions on Iran in 2018, prohibiting crypto exchanges from accepting Iranian clients. Moreover, high-ranking staff were apparently aware of the sanctions evasion, boasting in Telegram communications about Binance’s success in Iran.

Seven users reported in interviews that Binance did not limit their access until September 2021, when anti-money laundering measures were strengthened. Prior to that time, Binance was the preferred exchange owing to its highly lenient criteria.

Asal Alizade, a trader based in Tehran told Reuters, “There were a few other options, but none were as nice as Binance.” No identification verification was required, so we all utilised it.

According to the news source, Iranian users need simply an email address. Pooria Fotoohi, a crypto hedge fund manager who claimed to have used Binance from 2017 to 2021, said, “They were able to amass a large trading volume with several currency pairings in a short amount of time.”

According to internal papers reviewed by Reuters in 2018, Binance designated Iran, Cuba, Syria, North Korea, and Crimea as nations it would not cooperate with or give services to.

CZ urged followers on Twitter to use VPNs in a now-deleted tweet from 2020 and acknowledged in an interview that year that individuals circumvent Binance’s regulations.

Reuters disclosed that at least three top Binance workers were aware of and making jokes about the exchange’s continued popularity in Iran.

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