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Israel seizes Binance accounts allegedly linked to terrorists

Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance and David Burt, the Premier, sign a memorandum of understanding in April 2018 (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A fintech firm that promised to create a global compliance base in Bermuda and invest millions in the island is in the news again.

Reuters is reporting that Israel has seized around 190 crypto accounts at crypto exchange Binance since 2021, including two it claimed were linked to Islamic State, and dozens of others it said were owned by Palestinian firms connected to the Islamist Hamas group.

Documents released by the country's counterterror authorities, Israel's National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing show that as early as January, they confiscated two Binance accounts.

The seizure was said to "thwart the activity" of Islamic State and "impair its ability to further its goals," the NBCTF said on its website.

But Binance said later in a blog post that Reuters was "deliberately leaving out critical facts".

The exchange has been "working closely with international counter-terrorism authorities" on the seizures, Binance said.

"With regard to the specific organisations mentioned in the article, it's important to clarify that bad actors don't register accounts under the names of their criminal enterprises," it said.

Binance, founded in 2017 by CEO Changpeng Zhao, says on its website it reviews information requests from governments and law enforcement agencies on a case-by-case basis, disclosing information as legally required.

Binance also checks users for connections to terrorism and has "continued to invest tremendous resources to enhance its compliance programme," it told US senators in March in response to their requests for information on Binance's regulatory compliance and finances.

The exchange's policies and processes comply with European Union anti-money laundering and counter terrorism-financing requirements, Binance said in its blog.

In a series of investigations last year, Reuters claimed that Binance intentionally kept weak anti-money laundering controls.

Since 2017, Binance has processed over $10 billion in payments for criminals and companies seeking to evade US sanctions, the news agency said.

Binance disputed the articles, calling the illicit-fund calculations inaccurate and the descriptions of its compliance controls "outdated."

Nearly all of the 189 Binance accounts seized by Israel since December 2021 were owned by three Palestinian currency exchange firms, designated by Israel as "terrorist organisations“.

The US internal Revenue Service and US Department of Justice began a probe into Binance, two years ago.

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Published May 09, 2023 at 7:39 am (Updated May 09, 2023 at 7:39 am)

Israel seizes Binance accounts allegedly linked to terrorists

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