Binance: Did Richard Teng Walk So Changpeng Zhao Could Run?

Richard Teng, the recently promoted head of all Binance’s regional markets outside of the US, has seen a stellar rise through the ranks after joining the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange. Now, the civil servant-turned-crypto executive is quickly being viewed as the successor to CEO Changpeng Zhao.

This development comes at a crucial time as Binance faces mounting regulatory scrutiny, particularly from US authorities, who have raised concerns about derivatives regulations and compliance practices.

Despite facing intense regulatory pressure, Binance continues to dominate the centralized crypto exchange landscape, handling more trading volume than all other top exchanges combined. However, the exchange finds itself in a precarious position as it faces investigations and enforcement actions from at least four US federal agencies, along with scrutiny from regulators in Canada, Australia, and even Dubai, where Zhao resides.

The challenges ahead are significant, and Teng, a 52-year-old Singaporean, has been thrust into this turbulent environment following his rapid rise within Binance. With an impressive background that includes senior positions at Singapore’s central bank and Abu Dhabi’s international free-trade zone, Teng is seen as an ideal candidate to guide Binance through the regulatory storm it faces.

Campbell Harvey, a finance professor at Duke University, notes that Teng’s appointment aligns with Binance’s goal of building trust and working closely with regulators. However, the recent lawsuit filed by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) poses an immediate challenge for the exchange. Additionally, the US Department of Justice is investigating Binance’s platform for potential violations related to US sanctions and money movements.

In response to increasing regulatory pressures, Binance announced plans to exit the Canadian market and is currently embroiled in a dispute with the Ontario Securities Commission. These developments further highlight the need for strong leadership to navigate the complex regulatory landscape.

Teng’s career trajectory is marked by his extensive experience in the financial industry, having worked at the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Singapore stock exchange. His appointment as Binance’s Singapore CEO in August 2021 was followed by subsequent promotions, eventually leading to his current role as head of all regional markets outside of the US.

The apparent successor’s initial task at Binance was to secure a license in Singapore, a challenging endeavor that ultimately did not succeed due to concerns over money laundering and terrorist financing. Despite this setback, Teng’s prospects remained strong, and he continued to ascend the corporate ladder within the company.

When comparing Teng to Zhao, stark differences emerge. Teng’s extensive government experience contrasts with Zhao’s more nomadic background, and their public personas also diverge. While Zhao often takes to Twitter to express his opinions and defend Binance, Teng prefers a more scripted approach, focusing on corporate messaging and regulatory milestones.

Teng’s rise within Binance has solidified his position within Zhao’s inner circle, which includes He Yi, the co-founder overseeing Binance’s venture capital arm. Teng’s regulatory background, combined with his managerial skills, has earned him recognition and support from key figures within the company.

The move comes after the crypto firm is plagued anew with controversy, with sources alleging that the company mixed user funds with business revenue in 2020 and 2021, violating US financial rules that require customer assets to be kept separate.

Information for this briefing was found via Bloomberg and the sources mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to this organization. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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