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Binance CEO praises ‘pro-crypto’ France as it pursues base there

Binance CEO praises 'pro-crypto' France as it pursues base there 1

By Mathieu Rosemain

PARIS (Reuters) – Binance boss Changpeng Zhao praised France for its “pro-crypto” regulations on Wednesday, as the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange pursues plans to make Paris its European base.

Zhao, better known by his initials CZ, is trying to get Binance registered with French markets regulator AMF as a “digital asset service provider” (DASP).

Last year, more than a dozen national regulators, including those in Germany, Italy and Britain, issued warnings about Binance. Some said it was operating without a licence in their jurisdictions. Others cautioned against using its services.

Binance has said that it welcomes regulation and that it works closely with authorities across the world.

On Wednesday, Zhao said that the government of French President Emmanuel Macron had a welcoming attitude toward the largely unregulated cryptocurrency sector.

“France has some very pro-business, pro-crypto regulations and also just (the) government’s attitude towards this industry … has been phenomenal,” he told a packed conference hosted in the Paris stock exchange’s historic building.

Binance is already the top cryptocurrency exchange in France, it said in a slide shown during Zhao’s speech.

The exchange said last month it had been granted a licence to conduct some operations in Dubai, from where it plans to carry out regional business. Meanwhile, Bahrain’s central bank has also given it a crypto-asset service provider licence.

Zhao, who floated the idea late last year that France could become home to Binance’s global headquarters, made no mention during his speech of the French presidential elections, where Macron faces far-right leader Marine Le Pen in the runoff.

The Binance boss has pledged to invest 100 million euros in France and said that he had signed a deal to grant 2 million euros for the restoration of a room at Chateau de Versailles.

A finance ministry official said in January that France supported the development of the cryptocurrency sector, although the AMF has not yet published its decision.

An AMF spokesperson did not immediately reply to a request for comment on Binance’s registration.

An investigation by Reuters in January found Binance has in the past withheld information from regulators, maintained weak checks on customers and acted against its own compliance department’s recommendations.

Binance said in response that it is driving higher standards in the crypto industry. Zhao has previously said that Binance has never withheld information from regulators.

(Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain; Additional reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft and Tom Wilson in London; Editing by Alexander Smith)

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