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News/Binance Pounds the Gavel: Crackdown on Hamas-linked Accounts

Binance Pounds the Gavel: Crackdown on Hamas-linked Accounts

Van Thanh Le

Oct 10 2023

7 months ago3 minutes read
Robot freezing digital accounts holographically

Contouring the Landscape of Crypto for Greater Good

Binance, a leading cryptocurrency exchange, recently rocked the cryptocurrency world with a decisive move to curb terrorist financing. Prompted by a request from Israeli law enforcement officials, the exchange froze specific accounts linked to Hamas, a group deemed a terrorist organization by the United Nations. 

In a stark affirmation of its compliance with international laws and regulations, Binance took the definitive step to curb “any misuse of cryptocurrency for illicit activities.” 

Israeli cybercrime unit at work.webp

Unraveling the Indictments

Israeli officials maintain that these affected accounts were conduits for raising funds for activities related to warfare, exploiting the power of social media networks for their nefarious purposes. 

Interestingly, the fairness of this action is underscored by its precision. Co-founder Yi He confirmed that this measure is surgical, focusing entirely on Hamas-linked accounts and leaving ordinary Palestinian users unaffected. 

Yi He's explanation on WeChat (1).webp
Yi He's explanation on WeChat

Crypto Aid Israel: A Gamechanger?

Amid the rampant Israel-Palestine geopolitical tension, a beacon of hope emerged within Israel's local Web3 community. Demonstrating the potential of blockchain and cryptocurrency for societal upliftment, the community launched a charity campaign named "Crypto Aid Israel.” 

Accepting cryptocurrency donations, the charity strives to extend support to Israeli civilians affected by the ongoing conflict. The campaign has a robust start, garnering nearly $50,000 in crypto donations since its launch.


Binance’s UK Regulatory Woes

Meanwhile, across the European continent, Binance has run into regulatory headwinds. The UK's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) recently imposed restrictions on Binance’s newly enlisted U.K. partner, Rebuildingsociety.com, throwing a wrench into the exchange's compliance efforts under the new crypto marketing regime.

The newly instituted rules require crypto firms to be registered with the FCA to approve their ads. Unregistered firms can bypass this provision by seeking approval from authorized partners. 

UK Financial Conduct Authority building with a restricted sign.webp

Although Binance's plan was to have Rebuildingsociety.com oversee their communications, the FCA posted an alert stating that Rebuildingsociety.com lacked the necessary authorization to approve crypto ads. It demanded that the firm promptly withdrew any existing approvals and confirm its compliance by the next Friday. 

While Binance refrained from commenting on the new restrictions, it pointed out that it had already shared its partnership agreement with the FCA a week before the revised Financial Promotions Regime came into effect. Neither Rebuildingsociety.com nor the FCA offered any comments on this potentially disruptive action.


Industry Recovery Initiative: A Reality Check 

Pivoting from regulatory hurdles, a recent development brought attention to Binance’s post-FTX Industry Recovery Initiative (IRI). In an effort to assist crypto projects grappling with a liquidity crisis, Binance had raised a startling $1 billion in funds. But according to a report by Bloomberg, less than $30 million has been deployed so far. 

Sharing the effort, Binance had allocated approximately $1 billion in its BUSD stablecoin for the initiative, with other crypto entities contributing $70 million. Among the nine publicly acknowledged participants, only Aptos Labs fully committed their pledged funds, creating a discrepancy in the original expectations. 

Binance's publicly declared investment was a $15 million stake in the South Korean crypto exchange GOPAX, which still awaits approval from South Korea's financial regulator. With these measures, Binance rechanneled $985 million of the funds back to its corporate treasury, earmarking it for other investments.

binance iri txs.webp
Binance transaction. Source: Etherscan

While some participants either completely failed to deploy any funds or could not be tracked, the decline in applications into the IRI signals that the crypto industry might be regaining solid ground after a period of instability.


FAQs

1. How did Binance respond to the Israeli law enforcement request to freeze Hamas-linked accounts?

In compliance with international regulations, Binance acceded to Israeli law enforcement's request, freezing the said accounts to disrupt sources of terrorist financing.

2. What assurances has Binance given to its ordinary Palestinian users in light of the decision to freeze Hamas-linked accounts?

Yi He, the co-founder of Binance, confirmed that ordinary Palestinian users would not be affected by this freeze. It specifically targets Hamas-related accounts.

3. Can you tell me more about the fundraising initiative "Crypto Aid Israel”?

"Crypto Aid Israel" is an Israel-based charity accepting cryptocurrency donations to support civilians affected by the Israel-Palestine conflict. The campaign has raised nearly $50,000 in donations since its inception.

4. Why is Binance facing regulatory issues with its UK partner, Rebuildingsociety.com?

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) placed restrictions on Rebuildingsociety.com because the firm is unauthorised to approve crypto ads. This strikes a blow to Binance’s plans as it relied on its partner for this regulatory approval.

5. How successful has Binance's Industry Recovery Initiative been in helping crypto projects facing a liquidity crisis?

The initiative has so far disbursed less than $30 million of the $1 billion it raised. This lower-than-expected allocation of funds raises questions about its effectiveness.

This article has been refined and enhanced by ChatGPT.

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