Zhao Changpeng, chief executive officer of Binance
The Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao - or CZ as he is popularly known. The US SEC in its latest court filing also takes aim at CZ. Image Credit: Bloomberg

Washington: The US Securities and Exchange Commission said it's seeking to freeze Binance.US's assets and protect customer funds, including through the repatriation of client investments held abroad.

The agency filed an emergency action application to a court for a temporary restraining order. The regulator also asked the judge to back steps to 'ensure that Binance.US customers' assets are protected and remain in the US through the resolution of the SEC's pending litigation of this matter'.

The filing lists Binance Holdings Ltd., BAM Trading Services Inc., BAM Management US Holdings Inc. and founder Changpeng - 'CZ' - Zhao as defendants. In a lawsuit Monday, the SEC accused Binance and its CEO Zhao of mishandling customer funds, misleading investors and regulators, and breaking securities rules.

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Binance.US's response

Binance has said it intends 'to defend our platform vigorously'. In a Tuesday tweet, Binance.US described the motion for a temporary restraining order as 'unwarranted'. "User assets remain safe and secure and the platform continues to be fully operational with deposits and withdrawals functioning as normal," Binance.US also said in the tweet.

Among other requests, the SEC wants to ensure that any transfer of Binance.US customer assets exceeding $100,000 should be approved in writing by two of the company's senior executives and certified by them as compliant.

In a memorandum, the SEC said 'Zhao and Binance have a pattern and practice of commingling customer funds' as well as 'in moving funds outside of the US and/or on the blockchain where they are outside of this court's reach'.

The memorandum said Binance.US customer assets total over $2.2 billion and described Zhao as 'a foreign national who has made overt his views that he is not subject to the jurisdiction of this court'.