Scoop: Binance.US goes big on D.C. lobbying
Crypto exchange Binance.US is beefing up its D.C. lobbying operation as erstwhile competitor FTX comes under withering regulatory and criminal scrutiny, Axios has learned.
Between the lines: Palo Alto-based Binance.US is legally independent from Binance, the Caymans-based crypto giant. The U.S. firm licenses Binance's technology and is chaired and partially owned by its CEO, Changpeng Zhao.
What's happening: Binance.US has hired three D.C. firms to expand its PR and government relations efforts:
- Former senior George W. Bush White House official Kirk Blalock will lead a lobbying team at Fierce Government Relations.
- FS Vector partner Peter Freeman, a former senior aide to ex-Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.), will also lead a lobbying effort for the company.
- Binance.US is bringing on the Bullpen Strategy Group to work on its policy communications efforts.
Binance.US previously hired B.J. Kang, a veteran FBI financial crimes investigator, to lead a new "investigations unit."
- Its general counsel is a former attorney at the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The big picture: Its recent hires come as U.S. authorities step up pressure on the industry.
- Binance.US was reportedly under SEC scrutiny this year over its ties to a pair of trading firms operating on its exchange.
- In news that shook the crypto world this week, FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried was indicted on eight federal criminal charges.
- The Justice Department is also said to be eyeing charges against Binance and Zhao.
What they're saying: “Binance.US is strengthening and expanding our Washington team to center the digital assets policy agenda on our customers’ interests," the company told Axios in a statement on its new K Street hires.
- "We are looking forward to seeing our team grow and continuing to elevate the new economy and the overall digital asset exchange industry.”
Between the lines: The company is filling a gap left by Binance's exit from the U.S. market in 2019, and it stresses its independence from its eponymous affiliate.
- The U.S. company holds itself out as a compliance-focused player in the crypto space, saying it "was established to serve U.S. consumers and adhere to U.S. regulations," the company says.