Cryptocurrency

SEC’s Gensler offered to serve as an advisor to Binance in 2019: Lawyers claim

SEC Chair Gary Gensler once offered to serve as an advisor to Binance, lawyers representing Binance and its founder Changpeng Zhao have alleged.

According to a June 7 CNBC report, documents filed by the SEC on June 7 indicated attorneys from Gibson & Dunn and Latham & Watkins alleged Gensler offered to serve as an advisor to the exchange in March 2019.

However, a previous report from The Wall Street Journal in March suggested that Binance had actually approached Gensler first in 2018 for the advisor role.

According to the WSJ, which cited messages and documents from 2018 to 2020, Ella Zhang, who was then the head of Binance’s venture investing arm and Harry Zhou, co-founder of Binance-invested firm Koi Trading, first met with Gensler in October 2018 to offer him an advisory position. Gensler later declined the offer. 

Additionally, the report claims multiple private companies approached Gensler to serve as an advisor while teaching at MIT, but he declined all the offers.

United States President Joe Biden nominated Gensler to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission in February 2021 and was later sworn into office on April 17, 2021. 

Prior to joining the SEC, he was a professor of the Practice of Global Economics and Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management. From 2017 to 2019, he served as chair of the Maryland Financial Consumer Protection Commission.

Related: SEC’s Gensler claims ‘parallels’ between Binance and FTX, yet one wasn’t sued

The SEC sued Binance on June 5 for failing to register as a securities exchange and for allegedly operating illegally in the U.S. The financial regulator pressed a total of 13 charges against the crypto exchange, including unregistered offers and sales of the BNB (BNB) and Binance USD (BUSD) tokens as well as its staking program.

On June 7, Binance sent out a message through its Chinese social media channels declaring that it was “different” from other crypto exchanges amid the heightened regulatory actions against it.

In the statement, Binance said its wallet addresses are transparent and the exchange never “siphoned consumers’ funds.” Additionally, Binance said it never gave “large donations” to political candidates nor made “large sponsorships” to entertainment and media entities — a not-so-subtle nod to the practices harnessed by the now-defunct crypto exchange FTX. 

On the same day, Zhao sparked debate on Twitter, when he pointed out the SEC never sued FTX, despite Gensler claiming there were many “parallels” between the two companies in an interview.

Cointelegraph contacted the SEC for comment but did not receive an immediate response.

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