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The CEO of Binance is not happy with Bloomberg.
Changpeng "CZ" Zhao is suing Bloomberg Businessweek's Hong Kong publisher Modern Media, as well as its affiliated Twitter and Facebook accounts, for three allegedly defamatory statements published earlier this month.
According to a copy of the filing submitted to the High Court of Hong Kong Friday and obtained by Decrypt, Zhao is suing Modern Media for its Chinese-translated version of the Bloomberg US article, “Can Crypto’s Richest Man Stand the Cold?”
Bloomberg: hey, we will do a nice profile piece on you, invite you for photoshoots, etc. Then switches the story last minute. Ignore all positive comments they got from 3rd parties. Picked only old negatives. And still puts you on the cover. WTF!? Unprofessional.
— CZ 🔶 Binance (@cz_binance) June 24, 2022
Zhao is seeking damages because the Chinese edition of Bloomberg Businessweek wrote in print and online a phrase which translates to “Zhao Changpeng’s Ponzi Scheme.” Zhao is also suing the publication for reusing that phrase twice more in corresponding Twitter and Facebook posts promoting the profile story about him.
Binance representatives told Decrypt that Zhao’s filing is “a personal suit” unaffiliated with the crypto exchange.
A Bloomberg News representative responded to Decrypt's request for comment with the following statement: "We understand that Binance has filed a lawsuit against Modern Media, a company based in China that publishes a Chinese language edition of Bloomberg Businessweek and that published a translated version of a Businessweek story that first ran on June 23. The lawsuit refers to a headline that was not published in the original English language version of the story."
Zhao’s filing in Hong Kong argues that the published statements “were calculated to hold [Zhao] up to hatred, contempt and ridicule.”
“They tended to lower [Zhao] in the estimation of right-thinking members of society in general, in particular the members (existing or potential) of the crypto community and commercial counterparties (existing or potential) of [Zhao],” the filing claims.
Per the lawsuit, the CEO’s legal counsel also argued that the statements were “published in a sensational manner.”
Meanwhile, according to a Memorandum of Law filed in New York on Friday pertaining to the Hong Kong case, Zhao’s legal counsel alleged that the original English-language version of the article also contained defamatory statements.
The New York documents argue that the original article “contained several serious and defamatory allegations made against Zhao and Binance that were completely unsubstantiated, and were obviously designed to mislead readers into believing that Zhao and Binance have been engaging in illegal or unsavory activities.”
Specifically, the New York filing takes issue with Bloomberg publishing that “at Binance the sketchiness has a certain completeness to it” and that Binance is “a massive shitcoin casino”—statements Zhao believes are defamatory.
“While most journalist[s] at Bloomberg are good, but this time, it was bad,” Zhao said of the article back in June.
In Hong Kong, Zhao is seeking an injunction barring the publication from ever republishing the allegedly defamatory statements, as well as the removal and recall of the statements along with damages, interest, and costs.
This isn’t the first time Zhao has sued a media outlet for defamation. Back in 2020, Zhao filed a complaint against Forbes in the US.
He sued the publication and two reporters because a Forbes article claimed Binance had an “elaborate corporate structure designed to intentionally deceive regulators and surreptitiously profit from crypto investors in the United States.”
Zhao later dropped that lawsuit.
Be accountable for your actions.
— CZ 🔶 Binance (@cz_binance) July 25, 2022
On Friday, the executive took to Twitter with a post that’s likely a reference to the Hong Kong filing.
“Be accountable for your actions,” he wrote.
Editor's note: This article was updated after publication to include comments from a Bloomberg News representative and to clarify that the target of the Hong Kong lawsuit is Modern Media.