SEC files objection to Binance US bid for Voyager assets

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has objected to Binance.US’ move to acquire over $1 billion of assets belonging to the defunct cryptocurrency lending firm Voyager Digital.

According to a Feb. 22 filing submitted to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York, the SEC believes that certain elements of the asset restructuring plan of Binance.US’ acquisition could breach Securities Laws.

The SEC is formally investigating whether Binance.US and related debtors violated anti-fraud, registration and other provisions of the federal securities laws. The SEC noted particular concern around the security of assets through the planned acquisition.

The SEC argues information provided in the planned purchase of Voyager assets fails to adequately outline whether Binance.US or affiliated third parties will have access to customer wallet keys or control over anyone with access to such wallets.

Related: CZ denies report Binance is considering major breakup with US business partners

Furthermore, the filing notes insufficient provision of safeguards to ensure that customer assets are not transferred off the Binance.US platform. The SEC also argues that Binance.US has not declared internal controls and practices ensuring the safety of customer assets.

The SEC is calling for Binance.US to address these issues by providing information regarding who has access to customer assets and the necessary controls after the deal is finalized.

The SEC is particularly focused on part of Binance.US’ initial plan and disclosure statement for its Voyager bid. The company will retain the right to sell cryptocurrencies belonging to Voyager to distribute to account holders, which is the main point of concern for the US regulator.

“However, the Debtors (Binance.US) have yet to demonstrate that they would be able to conduct such sales in compliance with the federal securities laws.”

According to the filing, various cryptocurrency transactions will need to take place to rebalance funds for redistribution to account holders, which the SEC believes may violate sections of its Securities Act.

The regulator argues that the disclosure statement provided by Binance.US and other debtors does not address the possibility of these transactions being unlawful. It’s believed that this possibility could impact the estimated 51% recovery of funds that will be paid out to account holders and claimants of Voyager.

A footnote of the filing highlights the potential of Voyager buying and selling certain digital assets to rebalance asset holdings. The SEC flags the potential sale of VGX tokens that are issued by Voyager, which ‘may constitute the unregistered offer or sale of securities under federal law’.

The SEC also notes that Binance.US could be acting as an exchange under existing Exchange Act laws, which it is prohibited to do without the necessary registration as a national securities exchange or exemption from doing so.

The filing highlights concerns over the lawfulness and overall ability to carry-out planned asset restructuring through the acquisition and questions whether Voyager debtors will be able to recoup some of their assets following the bankruptcy of the firm:

“Creditors and stakeholders are entitled to know whether this transaction provides them a meaningful economic benefit, or whether this is just a $20 million sale of Voyager’s customer list to Binance.US.”

As Cointelegraph previously reported, Binance is looking to remedy previous regulatory and law-enforcement investigations in the U.S. The firm is facing the possibility of fines relating to previous compliance issues.

Binance is also dealing with regulatory action towards Paxos, which is responsible for issuing Binance’s US Dollar backed BUSD stablecoin. The New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) ordered the firm to stop minting BUSD tokens from Feb. 21. Paxos has countered claims from the SEC that BUSD is a security, after receiving a Wells notice from the regulator for failing to register the token as a security in the U.S.

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