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A week after the US Securities and Exchange Commission filed charges against Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume filed several motions in the US District Court for the District of Columbia on Monday in opposition to the lawsuit.
"The SEC’s request for a temporary restraining order should be denied for several reasons, but the most important is this: there is no risk to BAM’s customer assets," Binance attorney Daniel W. Nelson said in a motion signed by multiple lawyers for the exchange. "Indeed, there is no ‘emergency’ here at all, other than the one manufactured by the SEC for its own purposes, when the alleged securities law violations, according to the SEC, have been going on publicly and openly for years."
Last week, the SEC filed 13 charges against Binance, Binance.US, and Binance founder and CEO Changpeng "CZ" Zhao, claiming Zhao broke US securities rules, including operating unregistered exchanges, broker-dealers, and clearing agencies, misrepresenting trading controls and oversight on the Binance.US platform, and engaging in the unregistered offer and sale of securities.
The SEC also alleges that Zhao and Binance engaged in an extensive "web of deception," including conflicts of interest, lack of disclosure, and calculated evasion of the law.
“As alleged, Zhao and Binance misled investors about their risk controls and corrupted trading volumes while actively concealing who was operating the platform, the manipulative trading of its affiliated market maker, and even where and with whom investor funds and crypto assets were custodied," SEC Chair Gary Gensler said in a statement. "They attempted to evade U.S. securities laws by announcing sham controls that they disregarded behind the scenes so that they could keep high-value U.S. customers on their platforms."
Across more than 20 motions and declarations filed with the court, lawyers for Binance questioned the timing of the SEC's charges, which coincided with a lawsuit targeting Coinbase, the largest cryptocurrency in the United States.
Binance's legal team says a fundamental securities question the SEC skipped is the due process implications of whether this action was appropriately authorized by the Commission because Chairman Gensler had personal interactions with Zhao and Binance during the time in question.
"[The SEC] alleges that Binance.com has been operating unlawfully since its launch in 2017, including the early years when the SEC says it openly had U.S. users," Nelson said, asking why the agency would let these platforms (Binance and Binance.US) grow to their current size if they were always illegal.
"The SEC has eschewed rulemaking in favor of ad-hoc enforcement in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act," the attorneys said.
In the documents, Binance's attorneys say Binance has been engaging with the SEC since 2021. Still, it wasn't until February 2023 they learned that they were potential targets of an investigation related to the Binance.US exchange.
"This court should not permit the SEC to inflict harm in the United States and worldwide by enacting the drastic relief sought by the SEC on an incomplete record and expedited schedule," they said.