In the latest development in the ongoing legal saga between Binance and the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Magistrate Judge Zia M. Faruqui has set a hearing date for two pivotal motions. The hearing, scheduled for September 18, 2023, at 1:00 PM ET, will address Motion 95, the Protective Order, and Motion 102, which seeks to compel and reply in further support of BAM Defendants’ Motion for a Protective Order (Redacted). Both motions were filed by BAM Management. and BAM Trading Services, affiliates of Binance US.
John Reed Stark, former Chief of the SEC Office of Internet Enforcement, shed light on the intricacies of the case in a recent tweet. He highlighted Binance’s US affiliate, Bam Trading, and its efforts to prevent the SEC from deposing its CEO and CFO. Stark pointed out the significant timing of the CEO’s resignation, which coincided with the birth of potential whistleblowers. He also emphasized Binance’s protective order against the SEC, arguing that the commission’s discovery requests were “overly broad” and “unduly burdensome.”
Binance Vs. SEC Heats Up
This recent motion should not be confused with two other significant filings:
The joint motion from September 11, 2023, where the SEC, Binance Holdings Limited, BAM Trading Services, BAM Management, and CEO Changpeng ‘CZ’ Zhao sought a protective order to limit access to potentially sensitive documents. These materials were classified as either “Confidential” or “Highly Confidential – Attorneys’ eyes only.”
The SEC’s motion from August 28, 2023, to file documents under seal, which was accompanied by 37 supportive submissions, including a declaration from SEC trial attorney Jennifer Farer.
Stark also commented on the unusual nature of BAM Trading and BAM Management’s request to limit the SEC’s depositions to only four BAM employees and to exclude six key witnesses, including BAM’s CEO Brian Shroder and CFO Jasmine Lee. Stark’s extensive experience in the SEC Enforcement Division makes him skeptical of such a request, noting he can’t recall a similar situation in his tenure.
Adding to the drama, BAM’s President and CEO, Brian Shroder, has resigned from the company on the same day Binance’s lawyers filed a motion opposing the SEC’s deposition of him. Following Shroder’s departure, Binance US’s chief legal officer, Norman Reed, has reportedly taken over.
Amidst these changes, Binance US has also announced significant layoffs, cutting over 100 positions, amounting to one-third of its staff. CEO Changpeng Zhao attributed these layoffs to the SEC’s actions, stating that the commission’s attempts to “cripple our industry” have had tangible consequences on American jobs and innovation.
In light of these events, Stark speculates that the SEC and the US Department of Justice (DOJ) might find opportunities to secure cooperation from Mr. Shroder, especially if he fears criminal prosecution. The recent layoffs at Binance could also provide the SEC with potential whistleblowers, who might be incentivized by the possibility of significant financial rewards.
The upcoming hearing on September 18 promises to be a pivotal moment in this case, as the court will address key motions that could shape the trajectory of the legal battle between Binance and the SEC.
At press time, BNB traded at $211, just above crucial support.
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