Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, is currently grappling with challenges that have raised concerns about its credibility and market performance.
Behind The Curtain
The investigation reveals allegations of undisclosed token retention, discrepancies in the ICO process, and the accumulation of a significant token reserve by Binance.
Per the report, in June 2017, Binance initiated its ICO, aiming to raise $15 million by selling 100 million BNB tokens. However, the Forbes investigation, conducted with the assistance of crypto forensic firms, suggests that only around 10.78 million BNB tokens were transferred to investors during the ICO.
An additional 20 million tokens were “quietly” allocated to angel investors, doubling their initial allocation to 40 million tokens. Consequently, according to Forbes, Binance likely raised less than $5 million during the ICO, contrary to the $15 million claimed by founder Changpeng Zhao.
The Forbes report indicates that Binance’s white paper did not disclose the company’s plans for unsold tokens in the event of an undersold ICO. While it is not illegal for issuers to retain unsold tokens, transparency is crucial in such cases, Forbes alleges.
Binance founders and insiders reportedly ended up with 145 million BNB tokens instead of the originally planned 80 million. These tokens, initially valued at less than $10 million, are now estimated to be worth approximately $14 billion.
Furthermore, Binance implemented a token buyback and burn program to reduce the total supply of BNB tokens over time.
According to Binance’s website, approximately 48 million tokens have been burned as of August 31, 2023. However, Forbes suggests that Binance controls nearly 117 million tokens, accounting for 76% of the total outstanding supply.
The analysis combines disclosed tokens issued to the founding team with a proprietary probabilistic analysis that identifies previously undisclosed wallets holding customer funds and serving other corporate purposes.
Forbes concludes discrepancies and lack of transparency surrounding Binance’s ICO and token distribution raise questions about the integrity of reported trading volumes and the adequacy of consumer protections.
Binance CEO Maintains Silence Amid Ongoing Forbes Allegations
Changpeng Zhao (CZ), the Chief Executive Officer of Binance, has remained silent in the face of recent allegations and ongoing investigations brought forth by Forbes.
The prolonged exchange of statements between the cryptocurrency firm and the renowned news outlet has endured for a significant period. Binance had taken legal action against Forbes in 2020, filing a defamation lawsuit in the US District Court in New Jersey.
The lawsuit stemmed from Forbes’ publication of “false statements” that Binance allegedly used deceptive practices to deceive regulators and participated in money laundering activities.
Forbes published a series of articles that made damaging claims about Binance’s corporate structure, asserting that it was deliberately designed to deceive regulators and engaged in activities characteristic of money laundering. Binance vehemently denied these allegations, deeming them false and highly defamatory.
Binance’s attorney, Charles J. Harder, has emphasized the harm caused to Binance’s reputation by Forbes’ misleading story. Binance had requested a retraction or correction from Forbes, which was refused, leading to the necessity of the defamation lawsuit.
Overall, Binance and Forbes have been embroiled in contentious claims and disputes, with both parties accusing each other of disseminating inaccurate information.
As the situation unfolds, it remains uncertain how the cryptocurrency exchange will respond to the latest allegations put forth by Forbes.
Featured image from Shutterstock, chart from TradingView.com