Binance pulls back on potential U.S. investments -CEO

Feb 17 (Reuters) – Binance has pulled back on some potential investments in the United States, its CEO Changpeng Zhao said on Friday, following a Bloomberg report that the major crypto exchange was considering ending relationships with U.S. business partners.

“We pulled back on some potential investments, or bids on bankrupt companies in the U.S. for now. Seek permission first,” Zhao wrote in a tweet, without elaborating.

The Bloomberg report, which cited an unnamed person familiar with the matter, said Binance is considering ending business relationships with banks and services firms in the United States, amid heightened regulatory scrutiny of the company.

Binance is also reassessing U.S. venture capital investments and will consider de-listing tokens from any U.S.-based projects, including the major stablecoin USD Coin, the report said.

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Word that Binance may drop its U.S. partners comes a day after Reuters reported that the global Binance exchange, which is not licensed to operate in the United States, had secretly moved more than $400 million from accounts held by its purportedly independent U.S. partner. That money, according to company messages, was shifted to a trading firm managed by Binance CEO Zhao.

“Like every other blockchain company, we are conducting a careful cost-benefit analysis and will pivot our business as necessary to protect our global user base,” a Binance spokesperson said. The company did not immediately respond to questions on which U.S. investments Binance had pulled back from.

U.S. regulators have stepped up scrutiny of crypto companies this year. The regulatory action comes after multiple meltdowns in the crypto sector last year that saw a string of major industry players in the United States and beyond collapse.

On Monday, New York’s top financial regulator ordered the company behind Binance’s stablecoin to stop issuing the token.

Earlier this month Binance said it had suspended all dollar bank transfers after a U.S. banking partner, Signature Bank, dialled back exposure to crypto firms.

Reporting by Jaiveer Singh Shekhawat and Niket Nishant in Bengaluru; writing by Tom Wilson in London; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Susan Fenton

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