In brief

  • Forbes published a story in October that purported to reveal a Binance strategy to evade regulations.
  • Binance has sued the publication and two reporters, calling elements of the story defamatory.
  • It is seeking compensatory and punitive damages as well as the removal of the article.

Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, has sued Forbes and two writers for publishing a story last month that it calls defamatory.

According to the complaint, filed today in US District Court in the District of New Jersey, the article—”Leaked ‘Tai Chi’ Document Reveals Binance’s Elaborate Scheme to Evade Bitcoin Regulators”—“contains numerous false, misleading and defamatory statements about Binance.”

The article was written by Forbes staff writer Michael del Castillo, with additional reporting attributed to Jason Brett. Both men are named alongside Forbes in the lawsuit.

The Forbes article relies on “a document thought to be created by a senior executive” and “believed to have been seen by senior Binance executives,” including CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao. The so-called “Tai Chi” document was reportedly a powerpoint outlining a plan to set up an American subsidiary, ostensibly its independently operated namesake Binance.US, to “distract regulators” and then “move revenue in the form of licensing fees and more to the parent company, Binance.”

According to the lawsuit, the “Defendants’ false public statements, misrepresentations and innuendo that Binance does not comply with applicable law, seeks to evade regulators, and is engaged in activity ‘characteristics of money laundering’ are highly damaging to Binance.”

Binance maintains that, because it did not receive a retraction and apology from Forbes, it’s moving forward with the lawsuit. It’s asking for compensatory and punitive damages as well as for the article to be removed.

A spokesperson for the exchange said, “We exercise and support freedom, including freedom of information and freedom of the press, as well as accountability. This suit is not a reflection against our core value and belief in freedom, but ensuring the truth and justice.”

This may not be just a flex move for Binance, whose CEO previously stated it would sue The Block. One of the attorneys who filed the suit on Binance’s behalf is Charles Harder, who represented Hulk Hogan in a privacy invasion lawsuit against Gawker Media that netted the wrestler a $31 million settlement. (Gawker subsequently filed for bankruptcy.)

When asked for comment, Forbes Chief Communications Officer Matthew Hutchison told Decrypt, "We stand by our reporting."

Editor's note: This article has been updated to include comment from Forbes.