Crypto exchange Binance unauthorised, says Italian regulator, as crackdown widens


FILE PHOTO: The logo of Binance is seen on their exhibition stand at the Delta Summit, Malta's official Blockchain and Digital Innovation event promoting cryptocurrency, in St Julian's, Malta October 4, 2018. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) -Binance is not authorised to carry out activities in Italy, the country's market watchdog said on Thursday, joining a string of global regulatory moves against the cryptocurrency exchange.

Binance Group companies are not authorised to provide investment services and activities in Italy, despite sections of its website offering information in Italian, Consob said https://www.consob.it/documents/46180/46181/pr_20210715.pdf/7f78ad2d-a146-4b17-abe8-92efac07f49e in a statement.

"Savers are invited to make use of their utmost diligence in order to make their investment choices in full awareness, verifying in advance that the websites through which they make the investment can be attributed to authorised subjects," it said.

A Binance spokesperson said its website did not operate out of Italy and that the Consob notice had no direct impact on its services.

"We take a collaborative approach in working with regulators and we take our compliance obligations very seriously," he added.

Scrutiny of the cryptocurrency sector is growing across the world, with regulators worried over consumer protection and the use of digital coins for money laundering and other criminal activities.

Britain's financial watchdog last month barred Binance - one of the world's biggest exchanges - from carrying out regulated activities in the UK.

Watchdogs in Thailand, Japan, Germany and the United States have also targeted the platform.

WORLD'S BIGGEST EXCHANGE

Binance was last month the world's biggest exchange by spot trading volumes, data from CryptoCompare showed, with trading volumes in June at $668 billion - a near ten-fold jump from July 2020.

It offers a wide range of services to users across the globe, from crypto spot and derivatives trading to so-called stock tokens - digital versions of equities.

Binance's Italian-language channel on the Telegram messaging site has over 25,500 members.

The company's corporate structure is opaque, with its holding company widely reported to be registered in the Cayman Islands. Binance has declined to comment on its location, saying it was "decentralised" and that it "works with a number of regulated entities around the world".

Consob's move comes after its head said last month the spread of cryptocurrencies without any clear regulation was a cause for concern and could damage the way the market operates.

(Reporting by Tom Wilson; editing by Jason Neely, Rachel Armstrong and Chizu Nomiyama)

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