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Binance v. SEC: Hearing in Washington DC over BAM motion to compel starts now

The SEC claims Binance has been uncooperative despite the crypto exchange agreeing to a consent order on discovery in the regulator’s case against it.

Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao played it cool in the hours leading up to the hearing in the District Court for the District of Columbia on Sept. 18, posting a picture of branded merchandise with a cheery message about the company’s interns. 

He is likely to pay close attention to the court proceedings, however, as the disagreement between the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Binance.US is at a high pitch after a week of adversarial filings.

Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui is holding a hearing on the SEC’s motion to compel, which Binance has characterized as “unduly burdensome.” The SEC said that Binance is being uncooperative despite agreeing to a consent order on discovery in the SEC’s case against it for unregistered securities operations and other allegations.

Custody of Binance.US customer assets is one of the big questions being put forward by the regulator. Former SEC Office of Internet Enforcement chief John Reed Stark noted in a post on X (formerly Twitter) that Ceffu acknowledges being legally known as Bifinity in its “Terms of Use” page. Bifinity has been identified as part of Binance Group, Stark added. If that is the case, Binance.US customer assets are in practice custodied by Binance and in danger of being siphoned off, observers add. 

Binance.US had agreed that only U.S. staff would have access to customer funds. 

The newly unsealed sections of the complaint filed by the SEC auditor against Binance, Binance.US and Zhao in June found: 

“[It] was difficult and sometimes not possible to pull wallet balances en masse as of a historical point in time. This makes it very difficult to ensure the Company is full[y] collateralized at specific points in time.”

Another unsealed document shows Binance.US’ objections to the SEC’s first set of requests for documents. Binance.US claims the requests range from “overboard” to impossible, as in cases where the agency seeks to require the exchange to “create, generate, compile, or develop documents not currently in BAM’s possession, custody, or control.” Other documents are protected by attorney-client privilege, Binance claimed, or are trade secrets, personal information, or otherwise confidential. 

The Sept. 15 filing lists all 38 requirements pressed by the SEC individually and argues against them all.

This is a developing story, and further information will be added as it becomes available.

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