Three execs exit Binance, fueling speculation

Binance has lost many top executives since it was sued by the US SEC in June

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Following reports that a series of executives have departed from Binance over the past two weeks, CEO and founder Changpeng Zhao resorted to a familiar refrain.

Fear, uncertainty, doubt. Or FUD. 

“Some of our team members are growing into bigger roles, some outside of #Binance. Some are doing new exciting ventures. I even made intros/references for many of them. We are supportive of everyone. We are one community,” Zhao posted on X, formerly Twitter.

He ended his post by saying, “Ignore FUD, keep building!”

The latest departures, which Zhao was referring to in his X post, were Gleb Kostarev and Vladimir Smerkis. 

Kostarev was at Binance for over five years and left as the head of operations in Eastern Europe, CIS, Turkey and Australia and New Zealand. Smerkis served as the general manager of CIS for nearly two years. 

Kostarev and Smerkis reportedly left on good terms with their colleagues and higher ups, according to their farewell posts on LinkedIn. 

Binance’s head of product Mayur Kamat quit his role due to personal reasons, Bloomberg reported on Monday. And last week, Binance also lost its Asia-Pacific head Leon Foong.

Despite Zhao’s statement calling all of this FUD, industry participants and regulators remain bold in pointing out that Binance has been on the back foot lately; especially after the company and Zhao himself were sued by US Securities and Exchange Commission in early June 2023. 

Former SEC chief internet enforcement officer John Reed Stark upped the ante on Thursday, saying that the exodus among Binance leadership presents “unique and fruitful opportunities for law enforcement.”

“For law enforcement, when investigating any company, one of the best sources for informants, turncoats and whistleblowers is always the labor pool of that company’s former senior employees,” Stark wrote Thursday on X.

He continued, “Former insiders at a target company can meticulously map out potentially fraudulent conduct, can easily identify possibly complicit parties, can lead prosecutors to other compelling witnesses, and can provide terabytes of inculpatory documents.”

Travis Kling, the chief information officer of crypto asset manager Ikigai, is of the opinion that Binance is experiencing a “slow train wreck.”

In a post on X, Kling shared an editorialized list of all the negative things that have happened to the crypto exchange since December of last year. 

Some of the more recent key footnotes included Binance reportedly committing US sanctions violations in Russia, the end to its partnership with Mastercard, and reports of mass layoffs within the company in July.

“What happens to Binance is the single most important factor for crypto right now and it is set to be front and center in the coming months,” Kling wrote. 

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