By Tom Wilson

(Reuters) – Major cryptocurrency exchange Binance and executives, including CEO and founder Changpeng Zhao, have been sued by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) for regulatory violations, according to a court filing on Monday.

Binance, the world’s biggest crypto exchange, had from at least July 2019 to the present “offered and executed commodity derivatives transactions on behalf of U.S. persons,” in violation of U.S. laws, the CFTC said in its complaint.

Binance’s compliance program has been “ineffective” and the firm, under the direction of Zhao, told employees and customers to go around compliance controls, the CFTC said. It also accused Binance’s former Chief Compliance Officer Samuel Lim of aiding and abetting Binance’s violations.

Binance did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“For years, Binance knew they were violating CFTC rules, working actively to both keep the money flowing and avoid compliance. This should be a warning to anyone in the digital asset world that the CFTC will not tolerate willful avoidance of U.S. law,” CFTC Chairman Rostin Behnam said in a statement.

Binance dominates the global digital asset sector. Its core exchange, the world’s biggest, processed trades worth about $23 trillion last year, according to data provider CryptoCompare. Its trading volumes hit $34 trillion in 2021, Zhao said last year.

(Reporting by Tom Wilson in London, Chris Prentice in Washington and Jaiveer Singh Shekhawat in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli, Alun John and Marguerita Choy)

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