Asia’s Crypto Clampdown: Thai Regulators Cite Binance, Bybit

The Thai Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is ramping up efforts to combat unlicensed digital asset service providers. SEC Secretary-General Pornanong Busaratrakul declared that the commission is proactively blocking access to such illicit platforms as part of its drive to tackle financial crimes. The SEC cited comparable instances involving prominent platforms like Binance and Bybit, alleging their operation without appropriate licenses.

Binance, notably accused in 2021, subsequently set up a regulated exchange in Thailand via a joint venture. Additionally, Bybit, flagged by the SEC in December 2023, persists in operation despite facing regulatory concerns.

The Thai SEC has urged individuals utilizing unlicensed platforms to swiftly withdraw their assets, mirroring actions seen in India and the Philippines. Emilio Aquino, the chair of the Philippine SEC, declared on April 23 that Binance’s conduct breached securities regulations. Consequently, the authority directed technology firms to delist the Binance application from digital marketplaces.

Binance Faces Regulatory Challenges Across Asia

In response to the Philippines’ recent actions, which included the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC) blocking Binance websites on March 25, Binance faced similar regulatory challenges in India. In January 2024, Binance found itself among nine cryptocurrency exchanges banned in India due to non-compliance with FIU and PMLA guidelines.

While pursuing unauthorized operators, the Thai SEC aims to clarify which platforms will be subject to impending restrictions. The recent developments highlight the intricate balancing act regulators face when dealing with issues related to cryptocurrency. As an illustration, the Securities and Futures Commission in Hong Kong aims to greenlight crypto ETFs, while simultaneously cracking down on licensing violations to tackle investment fraud.

Moreover, the Thai SEC’s move exacerbates Binance’s persistent financial troubles. In November 2023, Changpeng Zhao, the CEO of the company, was succeeded by Richard Teng, the former chief of the Abu Dhabi Global Markets regulator. Zhao voluntarily resigned from his position after admitting guilt to charges of money laundering.

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