In a surprising turn of events, Changpeng Zhao, the founder and CEO of Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, has stepped down as CEO of the company.
Zhao disclosed this in a post via his verified Twitter handle on Tuesday. Zhao’s decision to step down comes amidst mounting legal challenges and regulatory scrutiny faced by the exchange.
In his social media post, Mr. Zhao stated, “Today, I stepped down as CEO of Binance. Admittedly, it was not easy to let go emotionally. But I know it is the right thing to do. I made mistakes, and I must take responsibility. This is best for our community, for Binance, and for myself.”
Zhao went on to express his confidence in the future of Binance, saying, “Binance is no longer a baby. It is time for me to let it walk and run. I know Binance will continue to grow and excel with the deep bench it has.”
He also announced the appointment of Richard Teng, the former Global Head of Regional Markets at Binance, as the new CEO. Mr. Teng brings with him over three decades of financial services and regulatory experience, having previously held key positions at institutions such as the Financial Services Regulatory Authority at Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), the Singapore Exchange (SGX), and the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
Zhao emphasized that the new CEO, Richard Teng, would focus on enhancing Binance’s security, transparency, compliance, and overall growth.
This major leadership change at Binance comes at a crucial time for the company, which has been grappling with a series of setbacks and legal challenges. Earlier this year, the company announced its plans to exit several countries, including the Netherlands, Cyprus, Canada, and Australia, due to regulatory concerns.
Furthermore, Binance has been facing legal action from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which alleged that the exchange artificially inflated its trading volumes, misappropriated customer funds, and misled investors regarding its market surveillance controls.
The company also pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to money laundering and breaching international financial sanctions, agreeing to pay over $4.3 billion in penalties to U.S. authorities.
The alleged misconduct by Binance occurred between at least August 2017 and October 2022, as per court filings. The exchange’s legal troubles have raised questions about its future and its ability to navigate the evolving regulatory landscape in the cryptocurrency industry.
With Changpeng Zhao stepping down and Richard Teng assuming the role of CEO, Binance aims to chart a new course and rebuild its reputation, while ensuring compliance with regulatory standards in various jurisdictions.
As Zhao remains available to consult with the company, Binance enters a pivotal phase in its journey as a leading player in the blockchain and cryptocurrency ecosystem.