Brian Armstrong Says CZ and Binance’s Guilty Plea Vindicates Coinbase’s Long-Term Strategy of Compliance


The CEO of the largest US-based crypto exchange, Brian Armstrong, says that Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) and his company’s admission of guilt on federal charges is a significant development for the digital asset industry.

On Tuesday, Binance agreed to pay over $4 billion in a settlement after pleading guilty to engaging in money laundering, violating sanctions and operating an unregistered money-transmitting business.

Zhao also admitted that he failed to maintain an effective anti-money laundering (AML) program and stepped down as CEO of the world’s largest crypto exchange.

In a new interview on CNBC, Armstrong says the event gives significance to Coinbase’s efforts to abide by US laws.

“For us at Coinbase, this is really a vindication of the long-term strategy that we have taken to focus on compliance, make sure we’re building a trusted company. I have to tell you, over the last 10 years since we have been doing that, it has been frustrating at times.

We have seen competitors come on the scene and not take that approach. Sometimes, they’re able to offer products that we didn’t think were legal and in this environment, we’re seeing that regulators were finally acting and they’re creating a level playing field.”

Armstrong says centralized crypto services such as those offered by exchanges should follow the same rules that exist in traditional financial services.

“I think it is good for the industry to turn the page, make sure that we’re following the laws where it is clear today around AML and KYC (know your customer), and then also we’re making clarity about the areas of the law where it is not yet clear in terms of commodities, securities and there’s new legislation on the horizon that I think Congress can help with there.”

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