The world’s largest cryptocurrency firm has hired a high-profile legal team to battle the US Securities and Exchange Commission — including hiring a former SEC attorney.
According to a filing filed today, Binance US, which was targeted by the SEC on 13 civil charges last week, has appointed George Canelos, who served as co-director of the SEC’s enforcement division.
In a lawsuit it filed last week, the SEC alleged that exchange giant Binance, its chairman Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, and Binance US broke securities laws and “enriched themselves with billions of US dollars while putting investors’ assets at significant risk.”
Binance US is a separate company of US citizens that uses the Binance logo but operates independently. The SEC alleged last week that “Zhao and Binance secretly control the operations of the US Binance exchange behind the scenes.”
Canelos is currently the Global President of the Litigation and Arbitration Group at Milban in New York City. He previously worked for the SEC for four and a half years and oversaw key cases – including the Raj Rajaratnam case, one of the largest insider trading cases in US history.
John Reed Stark, former head of the SEC’s Office of Internet Enforcement, described Canellos on Twitter by writing: “I think Liam Neeson meets Perry Mason.”
Other attorneys in the case include former federal prosecutor Adam Vee and bankruptcy expert Andrew M. LeBlanc.
Binance faces serious accusations: The SEC alleged that the company and its owner moved around digital currencies and cryptocurrencies to customers “as the defendants pleased.”
So serious, in fact, that last week the SEC asked a judge to freeze assets held by Binance US.
The 13 charges against Binance also include operating unregistered exchanges, brokers, dealers, and clearing agencies; misrepresenting trading controls and oversight on the Binance.US platform; and the unregistered offer and sale of securities.
The move by Wall Street’s largest regulator was the latest in its crackdown on the cryptocurrency industry. Since the collapse of the massive digital asset exchange FTX last year, the SEC has gone after a number of major US cryptocurrency brands — including Coinbase and Kraken.