- Christopher Robins, the general counsel of Binance.US, left the role this month.
- Norman Reed, former GC of Ripple Labs, is stepping into the role on an interim basis.
- Binance is reportedly being probed by the Justice Department, the IRS, and the CFTC.
The top lawyer at Binance.US has quietly left his post, just two months after the company’s CEO departed over “differences in strategic direction.”
Christopher Robins, who joined the US affiliate of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange in 2019, served as its general counsel for just seven months after a year and nine months in a similar role, according to his LinkedIn profile. A spokesperson for Binance.US said he would be taking a part-time role at the company.
“Chris has been one of the driving forces in assembling our leading legal team, and we are grateful for his past and continuing efforts on behalf of Binance.US and our customers,” the spokesperson said in an email.
Norman Reed, an alumnus of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Division of Trading and Markets and the Federal Reserve , will be taking the role on an interim basis, according to the spokesperson. Reed was previously the top lawyer at the crypto company Ripple Labs, the payments company Nanopay, and at Carta, the software company known for its cap table management programs.
The departure comes just two months after Binance.US CEO Brian Brooks and the company’s chief administrative officer, Manny Alvarez, left over what the New York Times reported to be a failed effort to get venture capitalists to invest in the US entity. Brooks, the former top lawyer at Coinbase who ran a federal banking regulator during the Trump administration, said in a tweet that there were “differences over strategic direction.”
“Binance.US has made significant recent investments in our personnel and we aim to continue recruiting world-class leaders to our executive team as we work towards an eventual IPO,” the Binance.US spokesperson said.
Robins is also no longer listed as a member of the board of the Blockchain Association, a digital assets industry lobbying group that Binance.US joined in August 2020. He was listed as a board member on the association’s website as recently as August. A spokesman and an executive at the Blockchain Association didn’t reply to a comment request.
Binance is the world’s busiest crypto exchange, with more than $26 billion trading on its platform daily, according to CoinMarketCap.com. It was founded in 2017 by Changpeng Zhao, known as “CZ,” and has been reported to be based in the Cayman Islands, although the exchange’s website terms don’t reveal the identities of the legal entities that actually run it.
The company launched Binance.US in 2019 for US users. According to Binance’s website, the US website licenses technology from the main company, though a Binance executive has said in a court filing that Binance.US “operates a distinct trading platform using a distinct matching engine.” Brooks said in a May Bloomberg interview the companies operate at arm’s length, even though Zhao was the majority owner of both.
The Justice Department, the IRS, and the CFTC are investigating Binance over the use of the platform for illicit financial flows and manipulative trades, Bloomberg reported earlier this year. Binance has said it has made investments in anti-fraud measures and hired many former regulators.
Robbins didn’t respond to a request for comment. Before joining Binance in 2019, he was a lawyer at the law firms Cleary Gottlieb and Buckley.