Belgium’s chief financial regulator orders Binance to cease Belgian services
The official announcement includes the possibility of "criminal sanctions" against the exchange.
Belgium’s Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) has demanded an immediate halt of all cryptocurrency services offered by Binance, the global cryptocurrency exchange and blockchain platform.
According to a statement released by the FSMA on June 23, the order comes after the FSMA raised concerns over Binance’s offerings of exchange services between virtual and legal currencies and custody wallet services in Belgium, which were found to originate from countries outside the European Economic Area (EEA).
This is prohibited under Belgian law, and violations of this prohibition may lead to criminal sanctions related to money laundering and terrorist financing.
The 27 companies reportedly involved in the operational and technical aspects of Binance’s offerings, 19 of which are outside the EEA, failed to provide required legal documentation and proof of their EEA-based legal entities authorized to offer such services in Belgium.
According to the statement, Binance was unable to verify that their services within Belgium were carried out by entities governed by the law of another EEA member state and authorized by their home member state. Consequently, the FSMA ruled that Binance’s activities in Belgium are in direct violation of this prohibition and has ordered Binance to cease these activities with immediate effect.
Return of keys, assets
In addition to the cease order, the FSMA has also demanded that Binance undertake immediate measures to return all cryptographic keys and virtual currencies held on behalf of Belgian clients. It insisted these assets should be returned to the clients directly or transferred to entities governed by the law of an EEA member state, with Binance ensuring secure transfers.
The Crown Prosecutor of Brussels has been alerted about potential criminal offenses.
Binance has faced a series of setbacks in its European operations. Its U.K. subsidiary, Binance Markets Limited, canceled its registration with the country’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), while Binance also announced its departure from the Dutch market due to failure in securing registration as a virtual asset service provider (VASP). It was also fined €3.3 million in the Netherlands in July 2022 for unlicensed operations.
The exchange has been under investigation by French authorities since February 2022 for allegations of “aggravated money laundering” and of operating without a license in the country between 2020 and 2022.