Ukraine Crypto Exchange Founder Accuses Binance of ‘Cooperating’ With the Russian Government

Ukraine Crypto Exchange Founder Accuses Binance

Ukrainian crypto exchange KUNA founder Michael Chobanian claims the Binance crypto exchange is working with the Russian government despite global sanctions, and has been for some time. During an interview Friday on CoinDesk TV’s “First Mover,” Chobanian said CEO Changpeng Zhao must decide on where Binance stands in dealing with Russia after its invasion of Ukraine in late February. “The problem with Binance is not just that they still continue working on both sides, it’s that they showed cooperation with the Russian government before the war, and as far as I know, they still continue cooperating with the Russian government,” Chobanian said. Chobanian, who is also the president of the Blockchain Association of Ukraine, appeared before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs on Thursday for a hearing on “The Role of Digital Assets in Illicit Finance.” During that hearing, he accused Binance of not taking an aggressive enough stance against the Russian government. “The first thing we did as a crypto community in Ukraine was to shut down all ruble operations because that was a big hole in the sanctions list. … Unfortunately, not all crypto companies followed our lead, mainly Binance,” he said during the hearing. He added that crypto may be a useful lifeline for Russians who oppose the war and are trying to leave their country. “Right now, the only way for them to exist outside of Russia is probably crypto, which means they won’t be able to purchase a house or a car, but at least they’ll be able to survive,” he said. Binance has failed to deliver the $10 million donation it promised in a February statement, according to Chobanian. The money would be sent to Ukrainian intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) for humanitarian help, Binance announced at the time. “They claimed to have given $10 million to the Ukrainian government, but I haven’t seen it, and no one knows where it went,” he stated. According to transaction information on Binance’s website, the company has donated $2.5 million in BUSD (Binance USD) and $401,566 in Binance Coin (BNB).