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Philippines to block access to Binance
Regulator reiterates warning crypto exchange has no license to operate in the country
Patricia Chiu 30 Nov 2023

Philippine regulators have issued another advisory warning the public against investing with Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, which it says is not authorized to sell or offer securities to the public.

“Based on the commission’s database, the operator of the platform Binance is not registered as a corporation in the Philippines and operates without the necessary licence and/or authority to sell or offer any form of securities as defined under Section 3.1 of the Securities Regulation Code (SRC), to engage in the business of buying or selling securities or as a broker or dealer as provided under Section 28 of the SRC, or to create or operate an exchange for the buying and selling of securities as provided under Section 32 of the SRC,” the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) says.

The SEC is also working to block access to Binance in the Philippines, in cooperation with the National Telecommunications Commission and the Department of Information and Communications Technology. 

“The removal of access in the Philippines is expected to take effect within three months after the issuance of the advisory, in order to give Filipino investors who have holdings in Binance to close their positions and take out their investments,” the regulator says.

In the meantime, the SEC is warning the public “to exercise caution before investing in these kinds of unregistered online investment platforms and their representative”, noting that Binance is still actively promoting its products and services on various social media platforms. 

The regulator also warns those who are acting as “salesmen, brokers, dealers or agents, representatives, promoters, recruiters, influencers, endorsers, and enablers” of Binance that they can be held criminally liable under Section 28 of the SRC and be penalized with a maximum fine of 5 million pesos (US$90,170), imprisonment up to 21 years or both pursuant to Section 73 of the SRC.

The SEC pronouncement came days after Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao stepped down after pleading guilty to violating US anti-money laundering laws. The US Justice Department is ordering Binance to pay US$4.3 billion in penalties and forfeitures.

The Philippine regulator’s move to ban Binance is the direct opposite of neighbouring Thailand’s regulatory approach. Earlier in June, Thailand became the first Southeast Asian country to authorize Binance to operate in its territory when it granted Gulf Binance, a joint venture between Binance and Guld Energy Development, a licence to operate a crypto exchange. 

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