Binance Aided Iran Firms Trade $8-B Despite Sanctions
Crypto giant Binance has processed Iranian transactions with a value of $8 billion since 2018 despite US sanctions intended to cut Iran off from the global financial system, blockchain data show, Angus Berwick and Tom Wilson reported for Reuters.
Photo Insert: The transactions put the company at risk of falling afoul of US prohibitions on doing business with Iran, lawyers and trade-sanctions experts said.
Almost all the funds, some $7.8 billion, flowed between Binance and Iran's largest crypto exchange, Nobitex, according to a review of data from leading US blockchain researcher Chainalysis. Nobitex offers guidance on its website on how to skirt sanctions.
Three-quarters of the Iranian funds that passed through Binance were in a relatively low-profile cryptocurrency called Tron that gives users an option to conceal their identities. In a blog post last year, Nobitex encouraged clients to use Tron - a mid-tier token - to trade anonymously without "endangering assets due to sanctions."
The scale of Binance's Iranian crypto flows – and the fact that they are continuing – has not been previously reported. The new findings come as the US Justice Department is pursuing an investigation into possible violations of money-laundering rules by Binance, which dominates the $1 trillion crypto industry, with over 120 million users.
The transactions put the company at risk of falling afoul of US prohibitions on doing business with Iran, lawyers and trade-sanctions experts said.
In July, Reuters revealed that Binance continued to serve clients in Iran and that the exchange's popularity in the Islamic republic was known inside the company. It was one of a series of Reuters investigations into Binance's troubled history with financial regulatory compliance.
The day of that article's publication, Binance said in a blog post that it follows international sanctions rules on Iran and blocks access to the platform to anyone based there.
The exchange's billionaire founder, Changpeng Zhao, tweeted: "Binance banned Iranian users after sanctions, 7 got missed/found a workaround, they were banned later anyways."