cryptocurrency

Philippines’ SEC moves to block Binance, investors given time to close positions

Ralf Rivas

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Philippines’ SEC moves to block Binance, investors given time to close positions

The Binance app is seen on a smartphone in this illustration taken July 13, 2021.

Dado Ruvic/Reuters

(1st UPDATE) Filipinos who have investments in crypto trading app Binance will be given time to close their positions before regulators block access to it

MANILA, Philippines – The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is moving to block embattled crypto trading platform Binance from being accessed in the Philippines to safeguard the public from unregistered investment products.

The commission noted that Binance, the world’s largest crypto trading platform, is not authorized to sell or offer securities to the public in the Philippines, pursuant to Republic Act No. 8799 or the Securities Regulation Code.

The SEC has requested assistance from other government agencies, namely the National Telecommunications Commission and the Department of Information and Communications Technology, to block access to Binance in the country.

The SEC said the removal of access is expected to take effect within three months after the issuance of the advisory to give Filipino investors time to close their positions and take out their investments.

Google and Meta have been asked by regulators to prohibit online advertisements from Binance appearing to users in the Philippines.

The SEC’s move comes after Binance chief Changpeng Zhao stepped down and pleaded guilty to breaking US anti-money laundering laws as part of a $4.3 billion settlement, resolving a years-long probe into the world’s largest crypto exchange.

Zhao personally paid $50 million for the settlement, which  prosecutors described as one of the largest corporate penalties in US history.

Zhao visited Manila last June 2022 for a series of meetings with regulators, details of which were not disclosed, other than plans to invest in local banks and obtain licenses.

Binance appointed a new chief, Richard Teng, who faces daunting challenges, including facing years of intrusive US financial monitoring, an ongoing US SEC lawsuit, and the potential loss of its dominance of the crypto sector.

In an emailed statement, Binance said it is committed to align with Philippine laws.

“We acknowledge and respect the statement made by the Securities and Exchange Commission of the Philippines. At Binance, we are committed to aligning with applicable local regulations. Under our new leadership, we have taken proactive steps to address the SEC’s concerns,” Binance said. – Rappler.com

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Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.