Brian Brooks Resigns as Binance.US CEO

Brooks joined BinanceUS as CEO in May, taking over from Catherine Coley, a tech and finance executive formerly with Ripple and Silicon Valley Bank.

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Brian Brooks, former CEO, Binance.US

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key takeaways

  • In a message posted on twitter Brooks said he was stepping down as CEO and wished his colleagues success, despite “differences over strategic direction”
  • Brooks’ resignation follows a series of signals from lawmakers that greater cryptocurrency regulation is coming

Brian Brooks, the previous Head of the Comptroller of the Currency, stepped down as CEO of Binance.US after holding the position for about three months. 

In a message posted on twitter Brooks said he was stepping down as CEO and wished his colleagues success, despite “differences over strategic direction.”

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Brooks joined Binance.US as CEO in May, taking over from Catherine Coley, tech and finance executive formerly with Ripple and Silicon Valley Bank. 

When Brooks announced he was joining Binance.US, he was quoted as saying that he aimed to make Binance’s United States wing a stalwart competitor to regulatory-friendly Coinbase. 

“I wouldn’t have taken this job if I didn’t have a strong commitment from the board to lead a strong compliance program,” he said at the time.

Brooks’ resignation follows regulation signals

Brooks’ resignation follows a series of signals from lawmakers that greater cryptocurrency regulation is coming. US Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler announced earlier this week that he will be making crypto exchange regulation a priority. The industry is also currently watching Congress, which will vote on a bill impacting cryptocurrency tax collection as early as Saturday. 

Binance, a cryptocurrency exchange incorporated in the Cayman Islands but without a named headquarters, has been the center of several controversies in the past. The company was investigated by the Justice Department and Internal Revenue Service in May as part of a crackdown against illicit trading activity in the digital assets market. 

In June, the Financial Conduct Authority ruled that the exchange cannot operate any “regulated” services in the United Kingdom. Also in June, Silvergate ended its relationship with Binance which was a larger hit for Binance and not Silvergate, according to Compass Point analyst Michael Del Grosso.

Then Del Grosso suggested that Binance.US, an entity that only shares the same name and software as its international counterpart, may consider a rebrand since Brooks was hired to give the company a squeaky clean image away from the headline risks of Binance international.

“Who knows what kind of team he will bring on, but this is something that Brooks is going to try and distance himself from,” Del Grosso said at the time.

Executive shakeup hints

Hints at an executive shakeup began in late July when Binance CEO and Binance.US Chairman of the Board, Changpeng “CZ” Zhao said in July that he would be willing to step down from his role leading the company if a candidate with a better understanding of the regulatory environment is found.

Shortly after Brooks announced his resignation, Zhao also released a statement on Twitter regarding the departure, where he said the former CEO’s work has been “invaluable.” 

Before joining Binance.US, Brooks was former head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the nation’s banking regulator. There he ran its operations in a continued push to become regulator-friendly. His tenure lasted from May 2020 through January 2021.

Under his watch, the OCC gave the green-light for banks to provide custody services for digital assets and also created a federal bank charter for digital assets-first banks.

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