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Appeals Court Reinstates Class-Action Lawsuit Against Binance

ByDayne Lee

Mar 11, 2024
Appeals Court Reinstates Class-Action Lawsuit Against Binance

An appeals court in the United States has recently reversed a district court’s decision that had previously dismissed a class-action lawsuit against the cryptocurrency exchange Binance. This lawsuit, initiated by investors alleging transparency issues in Binance’s sale of what they claim to be unregistered securities, has been given new life following the March 8 filing by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

Grounds for Reversal

The appeals court found fault with each reason the district court provided for dismissing the investors’ claims. It stated, “We hold that each of the district court’s bases for dismissing Plaintiffs’ claims that are before us on appeal was erroneous.” This pivotal decision underscores a significant shift in the legal battles Binance faces, highlighting the ongoing scrutiny of cryptocurrency exchanges and their compliance with securities laws.

Lawsuit Origins and Claims

The lawsuit, spearheaded by Chase Williams in April 2020, represents a group of investors challenging Binance’s operations, particularly its alleged offering and sale of billions of dollars in crypto assets, or “tokens,” without proper registration as a securities exchange or broker-dealer. These investors are not only seeking damages but also aiming to nullify the contracts established with Binance under the allegations of violating Section 12(a)(1) of the Securities Act of 1933.

Legal Timeliness and Implications

Initially, the district court dismissed the lawsuit, suggesting the investors’ claims were not filed within the appropriate statutes of limitations period. However, the appeals court sided with the plaintiffs, affirming that Binance is indeed subject to domestic securities laws and that the initial lawsuit was timely filed. This decision marks a critical juncture in the legal landscape surrounding cryptocurrency exchanges and their adherence to U.S. securities legislation.

Ongoing Legal Challenges for Binance

This court decision adds another layer to Binance’s existing legal woes, including actions by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Recent reports highlight the SEC’s struggles to obtain information regarding the custody of customer assets, further complicating Binance’s legal standing. Additionally, in June 2023, the SEC filed a lawsuit against Binance, Binance.US, and its founder Changpeng “CZ” Zhao for the alleged sale of unregistered securities and commingling customer assets.

In a separate but related matter, Binance agreed to a $4.3 billion settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice in November 2023 over accusations of violating anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws. This settlement also saw Zhao pleading guilty to money laundering charges, with his sentencing scheduled for April.

Overview of Binance’s Legal Challenges

April 2020Class-action lawsuit filed against BinanceReinstated by appeals court in March 2024
June 2023SEC lawsuit against Binance for unregistered securitiesOngoing
November 2023$4.3 billion settlement with the U.S. Department of JusticeZhao pleads guilty to money laundering charges

The reinstatement of the class-action lawsuit against Binance by the appeals court signifies a pivotal moment in the regulatory oversight and legal scrutiny of cryptocurrency exchanges. As the legal proceedings unfold, the implications for Binance and the broader cryptocurrency market will be closely watched, potentially setting precedents for how digital assets are regulated and litigated in the future. This ongoing saga underscores the critical need for cryptocurrency platforms to navigate carefully within the framework of existing financial and securities laws, amidst the rapidly evolving landscape of digital finance.

Featured image credit: Artsaba Family via Adobe Stock

Dayne Lee

With a foundation in financial day trading, I transitioned to my current role as an editor, where I prioritize accuracy and reader engagement in our content. I excel in collaborating with writers to ensure top-quality news coverage. This shift from finance to journalism has been both challenging and rewarding, driving my commitment to editorial excellence.