Former director of Binance, company fined billions in US, living it up in Malta

Updated to include a right of reply by Alexandre Dreyfus.

The former director of the Malta-registered portion of Binance – the cryptocurrency exchange found guilty of breaching US anti-money laundering laws – is living a life of luxury and private jets in Malta, as former colleagues face billions in settlement fees.

Entrepreneur Alexandre Dreyfus was a prominent part of the Binance team in 2018 as a business partner to founder and former Binance CEO Changpeng ‘CZ’ Zhao.

The company was a flagship for disgraced former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Economy Minister Silvio Schembri’s failed ‘Blockchain Island’ project.

Last November, ‘CZ’ Zhao pled guilty to money laundering offences, resigned from CEO, and agreed to pay more than $4.3 billion to settle a case with the US Department of Justice.

Binance in Malta

Binance was based in Malta for 18 months from 2018 to 2019, taking advantage of a “transitory” grace period during which the government attracted crypto companies before introducing anti-money laundering, consumer protection, and anti-market manipulation legislation.

During its time here, Binance never paid a cent in taxes despite processing billions.

The US Justice Department’s lawsuit against Binance came to a head last year with ‘CZ’s agreement to plead guilty. In a separate case, the US Securities and Exchange Commission noted how Malta’s unregulated blockchain limbo at the time had attracted Binance, with charges levelled at the crypto exchange encapsulating its time on the island.

Dreyfus had positioned himself as a director of Binance during the company’s move to Malta in 2018. His companies reportedly also received investments from Binance. He was pictured prominently alongside CZ and Minister Schembri, who was, at the time, the parliamentary secretary for the digital economy.

Dreyfus resigned from Binance Europe Services in February 2020 and Binance Malta Services in September 2021. Following his former colleague’s indictment in the US, Dreyfus declined to answer The Shift’s questions on the reasons behind his resignation.

Through a spokesperson, he claimed to have “no links to this matter”.

The spokesperson said, “None of the Malta entities of [Binance] are party to or the subject of any settled or pending law enforcement actions or investigations,” adding that Dreyfus served only as “a non-executive director”.

He said, “During his time with Binance Europe Services Limited, the company’s activities in Malta were limited to compliance services and customer care”.

Yet the summons letter for the US SEC case for Binance’s CZ, published last year, was addressed to Dreyfus’ home address at Fort Cambridge in Sliema.

Dreyfus’ spokesperson claimed he had not lived there since last year but refused to give further details. Social media posts reveal Dreyfus now resides in Xwieki, limits of Naxxar.

A resignation letter showing Dreyfus left Binance Malta Services in September 2021 after leaving Binance Europe Services the previous year.

Apart from Binance, Dreyfus was also director of cryptocurrency Tron’s Malta-registered company, Tron Ltd, which has now been struck off.

Tron Ltd and the two Binance companies in Malta are all registered to the same address – 14, East Complex in Gzira.

‘Let’s f***ing go’: the spoils of crypto

Since his business ventures with Binance, Tron, and now his own crypto companies, Dreyfus has amassed wealth that has afforded him a life of luxury on the island.

Apart from the Fort Cambridge apartment in Sliema linked to Binance’s founder, Dreyfus lives at a villa in Xwieki, with extensive gardens that are frequently the subject of his wife, Marta Dreyfus-Starzyk’s Instagram posts.

Dreyfus-Starzyk runs a number of health and fitness companies linked to the same Fort Cambridge address. When contacted, Dreyfus-Starzyk refused to comment.

The Malta-registered jet 9H-MOON, operated by SkyFirst, sees frequent use from the Dreyfuses. Photos: JetPhotos / Instagram.

Additionally, the Dreyfuses frequently make use of Malta-registered business jet 9H-MOON. The jet is conspicuously emblazoned with the mantra “let’s f**cking go” beside its entrance doorway. It is a nod to the commonly-used phrase in the crypto world to denote a speculative investment’s expected success.

Questions about 9H-MOON were not answered by Dreyfus, who refused to confirm whether he owned the jet, which is currently listed under operator SkyFirst.

Dreyfus and his spokesperson did not answer The Shift’s questions, with the spokesperson “closing the conversation”.

What’s he doing now?

Dreyfus first moved to Malta in 2005, setting up an online poker website called Chilipoker. Amid the cryptocurrency rush in Malta, he launched Chiliz in 2018, reportedly later receiving investment from Binance.

Chiliz is the parent company for Socios.com, a crypto platform launched a year later which allows sports fans to purchase ‘fan tokens’ from the company.

In partnership with several international football teams, Socios then allowed supporters to ‘vote’ on minor team decisions such as the designs for players’ entrance tunnels and the goal celebration songs played at stadiums.

The tokens are purchased through Chiliz’s cryptocurrency, $CHZ. The company has been accused of withholding payments to maintain $CHZ’s value.

The value of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Tron, and $CHZ fluctuates rapidly according to market whims, leading to speculative ‘investing’ alongside many scams and exploitative schemes.

Disgraced former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and Economy Minister Silvio Schembri, inaugurating Chiliz’s now-shuttered Blockchain Campus project in 2019 with founder Alexandre Dreyfus.

In May 2019, disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat and Minister Silvio Schembri inaugurated the offices of the Chiliz Blockchain Campus in one of the previous administration’s “pro-business” moves.

The project, also registered at 14, East Complex in Gzira, was meant to be a facility-sharing “gateway for Asian blockchain organisations”. It has since been struck off.

Chiliz is part-owned by Dreyfus’ Malta-registered parent company Mediarex Enterprises, registered in 2015. Dreyfus’ Zokay Investments holds 76% of Mediarex, a company registered in the British Virgin Islands – a tax haven.

Chiliz and Mediarex are both also registered at 14, East Complex in Gzira, just one floor away from Binance’s Malta offices. Dreyfus’ spokesperson did not answer questions on this matter.

Right of reply by Alexandre Dreyfus

The following text was sent by his lawyer Louis Degabriele, threatening legal action, despite several attempts made to reach out to Dreyfus and his comments included in the article:

“There is and never was any direct association between Mr Alexandre Dreyfus and Binance Holdings Limited, (also trading as Binance .com), which is a Cayman Islands Company, and which is the company that was fined by the US Department of Justice and currently facing claims with the SEC.  The Maltese entities were not involved or conducting any activities which Binance.com offered and neither of them fell within the remit of the claims put forward against Binance.com, as reiterated hereunder.

Mr Dreyfus was for a very limited time a non-executive director of two Maltese companies called Binance Europe Services Limited and Binance Marketing Services Limited, neither of which have been mentioned, let alone involved, in the proceedings taking place in the US, or indeed elsewhere. It is worth noting that even from a corporate perspective, the Malta entities are not the holding nor subsidiary entities of Binance.com.   They are not part of the Binance .com group.

Notwithstanding that the article tries to give an impression that these Maltese companies must have generated significant profits that ought to have been taxed in Malta, from a simple review of their published financial statements on the MBR it transpires that one of them hardly ever traded, and the other only made losses in the few years that it operated.   Neither of these nor Mr Dreyfus were ever accused let alone prosecuted for any criminal or other illegal activities linked, directly or indirectly, to Binance.com and the ongoing SEC claim or settled DOJ penalties.

Mr Dreyfus has been residing in Malta since 2006.  Since then, he established several businesses including “Chiligaming” which incorporates different brands such as ‘Chilipoker’ that was eventually sold followed by the establishment of Chiliz and ‘Socios.com,’ the renowned sports fan engagement platform, both of which have achieved remarkable success on a global scale.  None of his wealth has been generated through any involvement in Binance.com or the Malta companies mentioned above, which as already stated have at no point ever made any profit.”

                           

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Simon Camilleri
Simon Camilleri
2 months ago

Who can blame him? Maybe blame the pigs that allowed this to come to Malta just so they could get paid bribes, kickbacks, and laundered money in a way that (they thought) was not traceable. They have raped and plundered Malta, made millions, and got away with it. They’ve ‘left’ politics and nothing will ever happen to them.

Last edited 2 months ago by Simon Camilleri
James
James
2 months ago

Is Commissioner Gafa working with Interpol and other international law enforcement agencies with specialist crypto fraud units to trace the movement of funds and who the beneficial owners are?

Yosser Hughes
Yosser Hughes
1 month ago
Reply to  James

No chance. He is just a caricature cut out standing outside the Police Station saying “What crime? I can’t see any crime in Malta which is a lovely place where crime doesn’t happen,and I have such an easy job , I would recommend to anyone”

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