Binance CEO facing US charges linked to Malta address: ‘You can’t speak to him’

Changpeng ‘CZ’ Zhao, CEO of Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange that processes €60 billion in daily trades, does not live at his Maltese registered address on Tigne Street, Sliema.

Zhao is currently facing a court summons by the United States Securities and Exchanges Commission for misleading investors, operating in the US securities markets without being properly registered, and securities fraud, conducted from Malta.

The summons was addressed to Zhao at South 2, Flat 1002, Tigne Street, Fort Cambridge, the registered address of crypto-entrepreneur Alexandre Dreyfus, Zhao’s business partner when he first brought Binance to Malta in 2018, at the height of the ‘Blockchain Island’ failed project.

The US court summons for Changpeng Zhao issued to his Sliema-registered address

On Friday, the SEC struck a deal with Binance’s US subsidiary to freeze all US customers’ assets, allowing only Binance.US employees access to them until the raft of court charges against Zhao are resolved. Binance was described by SEC Chair Gary Gensler as operating within “a web of deception”.

Fitness4Malta, a fitness holiday business owned by Dreyfus’ wife, Marta Dreyfus-Starzyk, is also listed at the same address online.

‘You cannot speak to this person’

When contacted by The Shift, Dreyfus-Starzyk confirmed the address but refused to confirm whether Zhao lived there, saying “You cannot speak to this person”.

Fitness4Malta and its sister brands Ready4Malta and Angielski-Malta are a fitness holiday, events organiser, and English learning service respectively, aimed at a Polish audience, Dreyfus-Starzyk’s home country.

Binance has lacked an official registered address as a point of principle, with Zhao insisting that “Wherever I sit, is going to be the Binance office”, having Binance or its subsidiaries registered in Malta, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Dubai, and Paris.

Alexandre Dreyfus and Changpeng Zhao sharing a selfie in Valletta in 2018 – Photo: LovinMalta

When Zhao set up the Maltese branch of Binance in 2018, he sought Dreyfus’ assistance, who had set up online casino Chilipoker in 2006. Since then Dreyfus also set up sports betting site Mediarex and subsidiary ChiliZ, and eventually became director of Binance and cryptocurrency Tron’s Malta branches.

On 7 June, The Shift reported how the SEC’s charges against Binance showed that the crypto exchange was brought to Malta due to its unregulated but blockchain-positive stance, affording Zhao and Dreyfus free reign.

Despite having processed billions of euros through during its year-and-a-half sojourn in Malta, Binance never paid a cent of tax in Malta to the Commissioner for Inland Revenue because the main company it set up locally somehow reported losses every year, according to an investigation by Reuters from May.

In an effort to downplay the charges and respond to criticism, Zhao has since taken to Twitter, claiming he does not need to appear at court in person and that the lawsuit was “just part of the SEC compliant process. Nothing new.”

Binance still has two companies active in Malta: Binance Marketing Services Limited and Binance Europe Services Limited.

Both were set up in April 2018, are directed by Guangying Chen and are owned by Zhao. They are both located at the same address at 14 East Sliema Road, Gzira.

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