In Shocker, Brian Brooks Resigns as Binance.US CEO
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In Shocker, Brian Brooks Resigns as Binance.US CEO

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Created 1yr ago, last updated 1yr ago

Citing ‘strategic differences,’ the former Treasury Department official’s announcement comes as the global Binance exchange is under scrutiny from regulators throughout Europe and Asia.

In Shocker, Brian Brooks Resigns as Binance.US CEO

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Brian Brooks’ shocking Friday afternoon resignation as CEO of Binance.US after barely three months on the job has redoubled attention on the regulatory troubles that have buffeted its international namesake in recent months.

The former Comptroller of the Currency took to Twitter late on Aug. 6 to announce that he had stepped down due to “differences over strategic direction.”

A former Coinbase general counsel, Brooks won the affection of the entire crypto community from his position as the U.S. banking regulator, where he instituted a number of very important policies, notably allowing banks to custody cryptocurrency and use stablecoins to settle transactions. 

The announcement brought forward industry suspicions about the independence of Binance.US — which claims it is entirely separate from the global Binance exchange, simply licensing its technology and sharing a majority owner in Changpeng “CZ” Zhao.

Earlier that same day, Zhao had announced that Binance was “pivoting” to a “proactive compliance” stance. This came after regulators in Malaysia, the U.K., Japan and Thailand ordered the company out of their markets, and Binance announced it was pulling futures and derivatives trading in Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Hong Kong. It also ended trades using the euro, British pound and Australian dollar.
While the global exchange — the world’s largest by trade volume — bans U.S. customers, it is reportedly being investigated by the U.S. Justice Department, IRS and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) for servicing Americans.

Actual Differences

While the phrase “strategic differences” in C-suite resignation announcements often leads to attempts to parse what is really going on, in Brooks’ case there may have been real ones.

In a July 29 interview with Forbes, Brooks said he had a vision for building Binance.US into something very different from other top U.S. exchanges like Coinbase and Kraken. 

Arguing that “the exchange business is not a profitable, long run business,” Brooks pointed to the way Robinhood forced the main stock trading firms like Charles Schwab to stop charging fees. 

“Coinbase’s biggest risk is that it charges a 2% trading fee and Binance.US charges a 10 basis point trading fee,” he said. “But why would anyone pay 2% for the privilege of buying and selling their own assets, their own money, when they could come to my exchange and do the exact same thing?”

The future of crypto, he predicted, “isn't more people offering trading services like Robinhood and PayPal. The future of crypto is building decentralized applications that add value to people's lives.”

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