Binance Official Says Exchange Has Ousted North Koreans

AUSTIN, Texas – Binance has figured out how to keep North Koreans off its crypto exchange, a senior compliance official said during a speech Thursday at CoinDesk’s Consensus 2023 event.

“We kicked their ass enough that they’re actually able to recognize that Binance was not the place for them,” said Tigran Gambaryan, head of financial crime compliance at Binance. “Binance has been fairly successful … whether it’s about how they circumvent controls or identifying the different entities or types of identification that they try to spoof.”

Gambaryan highlighted the efforts of Binance by indicating how his 700-member compliance team “addresses 1,300 law enforcement requests on a weekly basis.”

Read full coverage of Consensus 2023 here.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Treasury Department’s sanctioned watchdog banned three North Korean individuals for supporting the Lazarus Group, a North Korean hacking team known for crypto thefts. As the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance is statistically prone to being used by bad actors.

Binance, in September 2021, hired Gambaryan, a former special agent at the Internal Revenue Service where he headed multibillion-dollar cyber investigations (including the infamous Silk Road case).

Late last month, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) sued Binance, the exchange’s founder Changpeng “CZ” Zhao and other entities. Accusations included failing to register as a “futures commission merchant” while offering unregistered crypto derivatives to U.S. customers, effectively suggesting the company went out of its way to try to bypass U.S. regulations.

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Earlier this week, Binance not only terminated its asset purchase deal of bankrupt crypto lender Voyager Digital citing a “hostile and uncertain regulatory climate in the United States” as a reason, but also quietly lifted restrictions on Russian citizens and residents.

Gambaryan said he remained concerned about nation-state bad actors and pig butchering scams in which scammers convince consumers to invest small amounts in crypto over time before siphoning these assets – fattening the pig before butchering it.

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Edited by Nick Baker.

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