Finance

Philippines orders removal of Binance from Google and Apple app stores

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Zhao Changpeng, founder and chief executive officer of Binance, attends the Viva Technology conference dedicated to innovation and startups at Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris, France June 16, 2022. 
Benoit Tessier | Reuters

The Philippines’ Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has ordered Google and Apple to remove cryptocurrency exchange Binance from their app stores.

In a press release out on Tuesday, the regulator said it had sent letters to Google and Apple requesting the removal of applications controlled by Binance from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store, respectively.

SEC Chairperson Emilio Aquino said that the Philippine public’s continued access to Binance sites and apps “poses a threat to the security of the funds of investing Filipinos.”

The agency accused Binance of offering unregistered securities to Filipinos and operating as an unregistered broker, adding that this violates the country’s securities laws.

Binance, Google, and Apple were not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.

Aquino said that blocking Binance from the Google and Apple app stores would help “prevent the further proliferation of its illegal activities in the country, and to protect the investing public from its detrimental effects on our economy.”

The Philippines’ National Telecommunications Commission has previously moved to block access to websites used by Binance in the country.

The SEC says it earlier warned the Philippines public against using Binance and began studying the possibility of blocking Binance’s services in the Philippines as early as November last year.

The SEC said that Binance has been actively promoting its services on social media to attract funds from Filipinos, despite not being licensed by the regulator.

The watchdog said it is urging Filipinos with investments in Binance to immediately close their positions, or to transfer their crypto holdings to their own crypto wallets or exchanges registered in the Philippines.

The action adds to a litany of woes for Binance, which recently replaced its CEO with Richard Teng, the former chief of UAE regulator Abu Dhabi Global Markets, in November 2023, after a U.S. government settlement ordering the company to pay a $4.3 billion fine for alleged money laundering violations.

Former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao was charged with violating the Bank Secrecy Act and agreed to step down. Zhao’s sentencing is expected to take place on April 30.

Binance has separately been sued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission over alleged mishandling of customer assets and the operation of an illegal, unregistered exchange in the U.S.

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