The latest legal dispute involving Binance, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, has pushed the company into a more challenging position. California investor Nir Lahav, along with several others, filed a lawsuit in North California District Court on October 2nd, accusing Binance, Binance.US, and CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) of engaging in unfair competition, attempting to monopolize the market, and plotting to eliminate their competitor, FTX.
The details of this lawsuit raise serious questions about transparency and fairness in the cryptocurrency market. The issue came to light through CZ’s personal Twitter posts just before the collapse of the FTX exchange in November 2022. At that time, Alameda Research, an investment fund affiliated with FTX, was exposed to accounting irregularities, and the connection between Binance and Alameda Research was alleged to have played a part in the downfall of FTX.
On November 6th, 2022, CZ made a public statement that Binance was selling off FTX’s token FTT, causing its price to plummet dramatically. This resulted in panic within the cryptocurrency trading community and pushed FTX closer to bankruptcy. However, on November 8th, Binance unexpectedly reached an agreement to acquire FTX but later withdrew from the deal just two days later. This led the plaintiffs to believe that CZ and Binance had no genuine intention of acquiring FTX, causing significant losses to users.
Furthermore, Binance’s CEO had previously expressed reluctance to support individuals lobbying against competitors in the industry, specifically alluding to Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of FTX, who frequently visited Washington to lobby policymakers.
All of these events have led the plaintiffs to firmly believe that Binance had a deliberate intention to undermine its competitors to elevate its market position. Currently, the investor group is gathering additional evidence of financial damages, court costs, and calling on the public to join their class-action lawsuit.
In addition to this recent class-action lawsuit, Binance has been facing pressure from U.S. financial regulatory authorities since June 2023. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) have accused Binance of violating securities and futures trading laws. While Binance has contested these allegations, tensions are rising as trading activity on the platform dwindles, and several high-ranking personnel have left the company.
Faced with a series of legal and financial challenges, Binance will have to navigate significant hurdles in the coming period to protect its brand and market position in an increasingly competitive cryptocurrency market.