Disagreements among U.S. Department of Justice prosecutors are causing the investigation into Binance, the world’s biggest crypto exchange, to be drawn out, according to four people familiar with the matter.
The probe, which started in 2018, is focused on Binance’s adherence to U.S. anti-money laundering laws and sanctions.
Reuters reported that two of the sources shared that some of the at least half dozen federal prosecutors have argued that the evidence already presented is enough to take action against the exchange and bring criminal charges against Changpeng Zhao, the founder, while others have suggested waiting to review more evidence.
The Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS), the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington in Seattle and the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team of the Justice Department are all investigating into this inquiry.
According to the Justice Department’s regulations, the MLARS chief must approve any money laundering charges against a financial institution.
Additionally, Reuters noted that the leaders from the other two offices, as well as higher-level DOJ officials, would need to approve any action taken against Binance, as mentioned by three sources.
Based on the article that Reuter posted, the inquiry involves representatives from three Justice Department offices: the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS), the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington in Seattle, and the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team.
Per Justice Department regulations, the MLARS chief must approve any money laundering charges against a financial institution.
In addition, those from the other two offices and higher-level DOJ officials would need to approve any action against Binance, according to three sources.
The crypto sector is in a troubled state, and if the inquiry comes up with an adverse conclusion for Binance and Zhao, it may lose its strong position in the industry which has been enhanced by the failure of FTX.
Representatives of Binance from U.S. law firm Gibson Dunn have been holding conferences with the Justice Department staff, according to four people.
They maintained that a criminal prosecution would cause greater harm to the crypto market, which has already been down for a long time.
Three of the sources suggested that the talks included the possibilities of making a plea deal.