Philippine regulators have cautioned local investors against dealing with cryptocurrency exchange Binance, noting that it does not have a licence to operate in the country.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued the warning after local think tank Infrawatch PH urged regulators to ban the entity outright, saying that it is operating in the country as an unregistered virtual asset service provider (VASP).
In a letter to Infrawatch convenor Terry Ridon, the SEC says: “Based on our initial assessment, Binance is not a registered corporation or partnership. Consequently, Binance does not possess the necessary authority and/or licence to solicit investments as only registered corporations can apply for and be issued the necessary licences to solicit investments.”
“We caution the public not to invest with Binance,” the regulator says.
Under the provisions of the Securities Regulation Code, the SEC says, Binance is in violation of the Revised Corporation Code and other laws, rules and regulations enforced by the commission.
Stressing that it is serious in its enforcement drive against investment scams, the regulator encourages “the victims of Binance” to come forward and file a notarized complaint with the SEC.
“For investor-victims who are outside Metro Manila, they may submit their notarized complaints to the nearest SEC Extension Office,” it adds.
According to a central bank circular, VASPs refer to any entity that offers services or engages in activities that provide a facility for the transfer or exchange of virtual assets, and they include businesses that perform: exchanges between virtual assets (VAs) and fiat currencies, and between one or more forms of VAs; transfers of VAs; and the safekeeping or administration of VAs or instruments enabling control over them.
Ridon earlier said Binance’s continued “highly anomalous” operations in the Philippines is a danger to the public.
Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, has faced opposition in several Southeast Asian countries, including Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia, which have either banned it outright, issued it warnings or are conducting investigations into its operations.
Earlier in June, Binance chief executive officer Changpeng “CZ” Zhao said the company was looking into acquiring VASP and electronic money issuer licences in the Philippines.
While the company has no physical presence in the country, it uses local third-party companies for tech and customer support services.