Mysterious CEO Assistant Changpeng Zhao Going by the name of Guangying Chen, known as Heina, is a key participant in Binance’s activities, which is the defendant in a recent lawsuit by the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Who is Heina and what is her role in the company – in the material Forbes USA
In the documents of an extensive complaint by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding the Binance crypto exchange and its founder Changpeng Zhao, one name pops up with enviable regularity: Guangying Chen, or simply Heina.
When the firm established an American subsidiary in 2019, Chen was listed as the manager of its bank accounts. When Zhao founded a secret company in Switzerland to allegedly artificially inflate the value of crypto assets in Binance.US accounts, Chen’s name appeared on bank statements and recruitment documents. In the SEC complaint against Binance, which claims that the platform “fraudulently exaggerated trading volumes”, the agency points to the “back office manager” who is responsible for the fraudulent transactions – and this is the same Chen.
Apparently, the woman does not have a formal position in Binance, and she is not visible in the public field, however, in corporate documents that are in the possession of the Commission, Chen is called the “CFO.” Until September of last year, the company didn’t acknowledge Chen’s existence at all, but then Zhao posted a blog entry that reduced the assistant’s entire role to overseeing “administration and compliance.” However, a Forbes USA investigation revealed that Chen controls more bank accounts and holds responsibilities for more Binance legal entities than any other executive at the firm, with the exception of CEO Zhao.
The woman now runs eight key Binance companies and previously held dozens of bank accounts that belong to 27 organizations registered in 13 different countries. This is how it manages corporate finance and a tangled network of businesses that, according to the Commission, have processed deposits and withdrawals totaling $148 billion since 2019. Accounts at Signature Bank and Silvergate Bank (both went bankrupt in March) by May of this year. were either closed or had a zero balance.
“Heina is a person who CZ [Чанпэн Чжао] trusts,” explains one former Binance senior executive who worked alongside Chen and Zhao. “She is the key to Binance’s finances.”
Based on court filings, land purchase agreements, and corporate documents from China, Malta, Singapore, Switzerland, and Turkey seen by Forbes USA, as well as what four former Binance employees and an outside consultant who worked with or knew Chen , there is a portrait of the elusive crypto leader who accompanies Zhao always and everywhere. The court documents say that since 2019, the woman has paid herself at least $ 32 million and has the right to sign on the most dubious and important business transactions, controlling all trading activities from artificially inflating the volume of transactions on the platform to winding up interest among clients and investors, – this, by the way, is the essence of the accusations of the Securities and Exchange Commission. In addition, according to the plaintiff, Heina was instrumental in managing numerous businesses from which Zhao took money, including the purchase of a $55 million private jet and a $11 million yacht.
Today, these transactions have proven to be a major source of Binance’s regulatory troubles, with extensive investigations being conducted by the SEC and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Also exchange threatens to check by the Department of Justice that Binance or its leaders are not complying with Russia sanctions and anti-money laundering laws, and Senator Elizabeth Warren urged to start an investigation into the fact that the company lied to Congress. Binance responded to Warren’s letter statement that the firm “supports the United States’ commitment to looking at market regulation holistically” and “takes compliance very seriously.”
IN press release June 5 the company said it was “disappointed” with the SEC complaint and intends to “strongly defend itself against any kind of allegations” that allegedly put the assets of Binance.US users at risk. Neither Chen nor the firm responded to a request for comment for this article.
While Zhao’s crypto empire survived the collapse of its biggest competitor, FTX, and a further market crash that buried crypto lenders like Celsius and Genesis, now an existential threat looms over Binance’s business. The platform, which claims to have no headquarters, has already left the market or has been blocked in at least 10 countries. In April, a financial services license issued to a subsidiary of Binance, annulled Australian authorities, and because of this, the local payment provider refused to cooperate with the site. In May, an audit to ensure that the company complied with regional industry legislation, start The Ontario Securities Commission, and two days later, Binance suspended operations in Canada and then filed a motion to stop the investigation.
Since the allegations by the US Securities and Exchange Commission became known, the volume of assets traded on Binance has decreased by 32%. In the United States, where the site serves more than 5 million customers, the figure has dropped by more than 75%, and the Commission is asking for an asset freeze of more than $2.6 billion, effectively bringing the company to a halt in its largest market. Crypto exchange last week closed American users the opportunity to make deposits in US dollars.
“Solutions that will allow Binance to do business as before, [Комиссии] not interesting,” says Renato Mariotti, a former prosecutor at a department of the Ministry of Justice.
Despite all the difficulties, Zhao remains one of the wealthiest players in the cryptosphere. Forbes estimates his net worth is at least $10 billion, though depending on how much of the Binance profit he puts in his own pocket, the real figure could be much higher. Forbes USA reviewed the contents of SEC records and corporate documents in 30 jurisdictions, and based on them, Zhao owns 100% of Binance’s international business and 81% of US business.
The mysterious Chen stands guard over the assets of Zhao and Binance. “Heina took over the whole management,” confirms one former crypto exchange manager. — [Чжао] Few people were trusted with access to money.”
Once, when the firm unsuccessfully tried to acquire a bank in Liechtenstein, then-chief financial officer Wei Zhou led the negotiations. However, according to two people with knowledge of the matter and bank documents, it was Chen who transferred $5 million from the Binance bank account to an escrow account in Bank Frick, Liechtenstein. Also, on the form with confirmation of the value of assets and liabilities of Binance, submitted to local regulatory authorities, there was her electronic signature from the DocuSign system (under the name of Hein), and not Zhou at all. He did not respond to requests for comment.
“Everything was handled through her,” one source added. “She was the one everyone turned to when it came to transferring money or financing letters of guarantee and whatever else, because she was responsible for every bank account.”
“The actual CFO was Chen,” the employee noted.
Very little is known about her life before Binance. According to her personal LinkedIn page, she received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Shanghai Hain University of Finance and Economics, and an MBA from the National University of Singapore.
And although Chen has played an important role in the business of Binance since its inception in 2017, its very existence the firm recognized, only answering a reporter’s question last September. In a blog post titled “Who is Guangying Chen, and is Binance a “Chinese company”?” Zhao said he met the woman in 2010 “when she was working in a liquor store [его] friend.” One former business executive elaborates that Chen also brought alcohol to the poker nights Zhao hosted in Shanghai. “He changed her life,” adds the interlocutor.
According to Zhao’s blog, Chen first worked as a back-office manager at a “large commercial bank” and then became an entrepreneur’s underling at his new crypto company, Bijie Tech, a cloud startup that developed software to run crypto exchanges. At the new location, she “coordinated the back office, since her early team consisted mainly of engineers,” the businessman continues. In addition, he notes that he appointed her as the official representative, since Heina was a citizen of the PRC, “and China has very strict laws regarding foreigners (for example, [его самого,] citizen of Canada).
Corporate documents from China seen by Forbes USA show that although the CEO of Shanghai Bijie Network Technology Co. Ltd. was Zhao, on paper the firm was headed by Chen. The woman owned 93% of the company’s shares, and she was listed as its founder and sole legal representative.
Companies had to close, – they say, because of the flourishing fraudulent activity. After that, Zhao launched Binance in Shanghai in 2017. And corporate documents again show that Chen’s name was written in the legal representative of the organization. Her share in the business was 80%.
Rumors that the company is secretly run by Haina spread in 2020. Then a friend of a disgruntled Binance client directed the wrath of the entire Chinese Weibo social network at the company, saying that his friend lost 167 bitcoins on the platform. His post and screenshots of emails from Chen have been published by several Chinese sites. In those messages, Hayna threatened the user that “such actions can be regarded as malicious and we can respond to such attacks with litigation for damage to our reputation, manipulation of public opinion and even slander.”
At different stages, Chen held various positions. On my own page on LinkedIn she claims to be “involved in the middle and back office, including finance/HR administration/administrative duties/enforcement, etc.” and is a “co-founder of the Company”, but does not specifically name Binance. In Telegram messages shown to Forbes USA, former Binance CFO Wei Zhou refers to the woman as Zhao’s “personal financier”. On the Liechtenstein regulatory approval form, Chen is listed as the “head of the back office,” and the US Securities and Exchange Commission lawsuit lists Hayna as the “back office manager of Binance.” Among other things, in the emails shown by Forbes USA, where Chen is introduced to third parties, she was simply called the “VP” of the crypto exchange. According to a former company executive who spoke to Chen on the phone, she did not have a formal position, but the woman worked in the “financial department.”
Zhao himself tried to downplay her importance: in a blog post last year, he said that Heina was in charge of the “administration and compliance team.” But contrary to the businessman’s claims that she was the legal representative during Binance’s time in Shanghai, Chen’s key role in Zhao’s corporate structures went far beyond China. When, under pressure from the Chinese authorities on the crypto sector, the exchange had to look for a new home, the entrepreneur established two companies in Malta in 2018. According to the local business register, he made Chen the director and sole legal representative of both organizations the following year.
Regarding Chen’s current whereabouts, in a 2022 blog post, Zhao claimed that Heina “has a European passport where she lives a quiet life with her family.”
But this is contrary to current documents that Forbes USA found in the Maltese and Singaporean business registers. According to the Maltese list, Chen updated her documents in June last year to register a new Chinese passport. In China, dual citizenship is prohibited, and the records indicate that the place of residence is in Singapore. This obviously contradicts Chen’s “living a quiet life” in a “European country”. Her LinkedIn page says that Heina is in the United Arab Emirates, where Zhao moved from Singapore in 2022.
The former senior executive from Binance sees nothing surprising: “She constantly went after Zhao.”
In February 2020, the idea of moving to Malta failed, as the local regulator in the field of financial services concluded that the company did not have the right to conduct transactions with cryptocurrencies. According to court filings and corporate documents, Chen was always there as she expanded into new markets and served as director and bank account holder of subsidiaries in at least 15 countries from Canada to Kazakhstan.
In an effort to convince regulators that the personal information and assets of US customers are being managed and held by a US-based team, in 2019 Binance launched a separate exchange for the United States. Chen was placed in charge and manager of bank accounts in American firms that did business domestically. The lawsuit from the Securities and Exchange Commission cited Binance.US’s financial statements for the same year, and Hayna was again listed as the sole manager of all nine bank accounts of the company.
In order to strengthen the position of business in the US, Zhao resorted to the help of a new Swiss company under the leadership of Chen (judging by the documents of the Commission and internal corporate records, she was a director and manager of bank accounts) – the regulator believes that everything was organized to be carried out on an American platform massive fraud. The commission cites a Binance.US recruitment document showing that Sigma Chain Special Firm was established as a market maker that “utilizes income generated from the difference between ask and bid prices” and is “limited to funds from a personal account [Чжао]”.
However, unlike ordinary market makers who trade large volumes of assets on exchanges on their own, the meaning of Sigma Chain, according to the regulator, was to wind up transaction volumes on Binance.US through “wash trading” (“laundering” trading), — running crypto assets back and forth to simulate client activity.
The Commission believes that on the day of the launch of Binance.US in 2019, Sigma Chain was conducting similar operations, giving the impression that the exchange was booming. When in the summer of 2021 the US division was negotiating to raise capital in the amount of $200 million from investors such as Foundation Capital and Circle Ventures (the deal eventually closed in March 2022), Sigma Chain accounts allegedly carried out fake transactions with 51 cryptocurrencies out of 58 available on site. As the regulator notes, then, in the first half of 2022, when Binance.US introduced dozens of new crypto assets into the system, the Swiss firm was engaged in washing trading with 48 new currencies (there were 51 in total). In an official response to the complaint, Binance’s lawyers stated that “the alleged manipulative trading that the SEC saw was within the law and in any case was intangible.”
Be that as it may, among the Binance.US employees, the activity of Sigma Chain caused extreme bewilderment. Catherine Cowley, former CEO of the US division of the crypto exchange, expressed concerns about this back in 2019. According to the filing, in a message to then-CFO Wei Zhou, she warned that Chen, in his role as bank account manager, would be “a red flag to regulators and attract [к Binance] the attention of the American authorities. In January 2021, the CCO told the CEO and Binance.US staff that 20 accounts belong to Sigma Chain, and one employee even said, “Wow!”
Meanwhile, the line between Binance’s subsidiaries and Zhao and Chen’s entities began to blur. According to the plaintiff, with the help of companies owned by a billionaire and managed by a business couple, approximately $ 11 billion from client deposits was managed to mix with funds in Binance bank accounts. In addition to the wash trading, Sigma Chain came in handy in buying a $11 million yacht and paying out $32 million to Chen.
Heina was also the bank account manager for numerous transactions that funded Zhao’s chic lifestyle, though the businessman is known for his eschewing material luxuries and traditional banking. In 2020, he tweeted: “no house, no car, no fiat money.” Commission documents state that another company owned by Zhao, Binance Capital Management Co. Ltd. in the British Virgin Islands, spent $55 million on a private jet and transferred $62.5 million to the entrepreneur’s personal bank accounts. Another $178 million was transferred by this firm, along with two other Binance structural units under the leadership of a business tandem, to a pair of organizations Zhao and Chen in Singapore.
But working with Zhao was not always beneficial for Hein. In a blog entry from last year, the billionaire expressed regret that in 2015 he asked an assistant to become his legal representative, because it made her the center of everyone’s attention. “She and her family have been harassed by the media and Internet trolls,” he lamented. “If I knew how much this would make her life difficult, then I wouldn’t even make a request that then seemed completely harmless.”
Translation by Anton Bundin
When asked where the company pays taxes, Zhao replied that they are not hiding anything, but Binance is not exactly a traditional company, but rather a team with a common goal. Laura Shin did not receive an answer to her question and was very surprised that CZ avoids this particular topic, although he discusses others calmly.
ForkLog figured out what is known about the legal structure of the largest cryptocurrency exchange, which is so carefully hidden by its management.
Binance accused The Block of spreading a fake, and CZ threatened court journalists. In response, the publication published a lot of material, in which he spoke about not one, but two offices of the exchange in Shanghai at once, even showing their photographs. Only in one of them, according to the publication, up to two hundred people worked. Other users also found a Chinese channel report with the participation of law enforcement officers about the closure of the Binance office.
A month before the alleged raid, CoinDesk published in one of its materials mentioned about the Binance office in Shanghai. Then the exchange did not refute it.
Changpeng Zhao himself called the idea of headquarters and offices obsolete. Although it sounds quite relevant, the rejection of outdated ideas did not stop Zhao in March 2020 from announcing the opening of the Binance Academy office (the educational division of the exchange) in Shanghai. And in the summer of 2019, CZ does “hoped”that will open an office in London “very soon”.
The other day became knownthat Binance will launch a regulated marketplace in the UK on the binance.uk domain. The British register of companies has BINANCE DIGITAL LIMITED, with Binance employee Zuowen Wei listed as one of its directors. Changpeng Zhao owns 75% of the shares of this company. She was registered on November 29, 2019.
In the same register, there were two more companies controlled by Zhao – BINANCE EUROPE LTD (founded in March 2020) and BINANCE MARKETS LIMITED; (founded in March 2015). The latter was called EDDIEUK LTD until June 10, 2020, and Zhao transferred control over it only on June 8.
In April 2020, Binance registered Chinese domain binance.cn in the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China. The application was filed by Shanghai Bi Nai Shi Information Technology LLC.
The exchange then acknowledged problems with the regulator and announced intention to relocate its headquarters to Malta.
After failing in Japan, at the end of March 2018, Binance allegedly found a new location for its headquarters in Malta, which then had a reputation as a “blockchain island” for its favorable regulation. Binance’s move was welcomed by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat himself.
Binance has launched a flurry of activity on the island. Malta, being a member of the European Union, was supposed to become the base for the further expansion of the exchange into Europe.
In June 2018, Binance opened a bank account on the island to implement euro support and open pairs with European currency. Same month Binance promised to support; Fintech Startup and Entrepreneurship Development Program from the Malta Stock Exchange. Soon after it was signed memorandum with the Malta Stock Exchange on plans to create a regulated platform for trading security tokens.
As early as July 2018, Binance acquired a share at the Maltese bank Founders Bank. In October 2019, the exchange increased investment in this venture. The goal was to gain access to the infrastructure to offer a “complete set of banking services” on the exchange.
Founders Bank since 2018 located in the process of obtaining a European banking license and a Maltese license for the provision of financial services. Founders Bank still does not have a license, and the joint Binance project with the Malta Stock Exchange has not been launched.
Joseph Muscat, the main ideologist of the “blockchain island”, got into a corruption scandal related to the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. In January 2020 he resignedafter which the attitude of the authorities towards the crypto business changed dramatically.
One month after Muscat’s departure, the Maltese financial regulator, MFSA, informedthat Binance does not have any licenses for financial activities. This discouraged the community. Moreover, according to the MFSA statement, Binance ceased to be interested in licensing in the fall of 2019. Later it turned out that the licenses have not received dozens of cryptocurrency companies.
Zhao, in response to the news about the lack of a license, only threw wood on the fire. He said that Binance does not have a headquarters at all and does not work in Malta – this is “outdated news.” The exchange, he says, is managed “decentrally” with the goal of creating a DAO. How this relates to a centralized exchange, the presence of an administration and a hierarchical management structure led by Zhao, he did not explain.
A little more clarity was introduced by the director of development of Binance Ted Lin. He explainedthat the exchange in Malta has customer support and compliance staff, but no headquarters as such.
“We have spiritual headquarters there,” he added vaguely.
IN Maltese registry companies were Binance Marketing Services Ltd (registration number C 85602) and Binance Europe Services Ltd (C 85624). The organizations were registered on April 9 and 10, 2018, respectively, and are located at the same legal address.
Binance is known to have There is company and in South Korea – Binance Co. Ltd. In partnership with fintech startup BxB, she will operate or already operates a support center.
At one time, the opening of crypto-fiat exchanges was a big trend. Binance intended to open up to 10 local sites. However, already launched exchanges failed to attract enough attention.
Then Binance decided to shift efforts to the main exchange. In 2020 Changpeng Zhao promised to add binance.com supports 180 currencies.
The user agreement now only says that disputes can be resolved in any court that has jurisdiction over one of the parties (either Binance sues the user, or the user sues Binance). Potential plaintiffs are invited to send all the details to [email protected].
Also available at the Internet Archive document version dated February 15, 2020, which states that disputes are resolved through the Singapore International Arbitration Center (SIAC) or the Singapore Small Claims Tribunals (SCT). Recall that in the jurisdiction of Singapore is the company Binance Asia Services Pte. Ltd., which operates an exchange on the binance.sg domain, but not Binance.com.
Meanwhile, in February, Binance Holdings Limited filed an application to obtain a license for cryptocurrency operations in Singapore after the relevant law came into force there. Whether the exchange has this license today is unknown. Binance declined to comment on the legal structure of the company.
We emphasize that the company that owned Binance (and the BNB token) at the time of the launch provided and we are sure (will continue to provide) employees for Binance Bijie Tech or Shanghai Bijie Network Technology Co., Ltd (Shanghai Daqing Networking Technology Co., Ltd.) number Registration No. 310230000837235 was 93% owned not by Changpeng Zhao (CZ), but by Ms. Guangying Chen (Heina Chen). She is the owner of both Bijie Tech and, as a result, the Binance casino as a whole. A lot of data in the material For investigation and investigations: Guangying Chen, Binance, Bijie Tech and Changpeng Zhao. A legal fact that for some reason was hidden and was hidden at the time of the launch of the Binance exchange and the ICO of the BNB security. Interestingly, there are many employees listed in the Binance whitepaper, but … Guangying Chen (Heina Chen) You won’t see it there.
Number 14 in the table is our Binance casino, owned by Guangying Chen (Heina Chen).
In a 2018 article, when the Chinese police visited the office of Binance and Changpeng Zhao justified that they do not have any offices in China, and in general they do not work in China and leave it, the same Guangying Chen (as the CEO of Binance) pops up:
According to the filing, the company’s Executive Director is Chen Guangying, CTO is Wang Lilai.
That is, Changpeng Zhao knew and worked for Ms. Guangying Chen (Heina Chen) at least since 2012 as a director, not a shareholder and not an owner of companies (there are several of them).
Twitter profile abandoned in the summer of 2019 and created in 2018 – @heina41897034, she has “Heina Chen” and “Co-Founder @Binance” in her profile. All posts are exclusively about Binance, nothing personal or interesting. List of friends – everything is as it should be, you can separately select Alexandre Dreyfus in friends, owner of FTX casino-exchange (they all know each other very well and work together).
Interestingly, after our publication For investigation and investigation: Guangying Chen (Heina Chen), BitDJ (do) and analysis of Binance domains on February 7, 2021, Twitter @heina41897034 was deleted and the information in it was cleaned up, now it looks like this:
And on March 30, 2021, Changpeng Zhao published the following:
I don’t do this often, but @ChenHeina is a scammer account. This one somehow managed to get a few legit people to follow it, including several people I follow. Please ask anyone you know to unfollow AND REPORT IT. Let’s shut it down. Many thanks! Stay SAFU
The @ChenHeina account is definitely not owned by Guangying Chen (Heina Chen), her account was (and recently deleted) @heina41897034. Most likely a fake account was created by scammers, but this is not important. What is important is how quickly Changpeng Zhao reacted, wrote about it, paid attention to it and made efforts to remove the fake account. And it seems to us that at that moment the real (but abandoned) Twitter account @heina41897034 was deleted in order to hide all the facts of the existence of Guangying Chen (Heina Chen) as the real owner of the Binance casino.
In the material For the investigation and investigations: Malta, Guangying Chen (Heina Chen) and Alexandre Dreyfus — data of Guangying Chen (Heina Chen) in the Maltese company Binance Europe Services Limited emerges:
GUANGYING CHEN Passport: G44530487
ROOM 401, BUILDING 8, NO. 338 LIJIN ROAD, PUDONG NEW AREA SHANGHAI 200025
And Changpeng Zhao (CZ) data:
CHANGPENG ZHAO Passport: HG163034
FORT CAMBRIDGE, SOUTH 2, FLAT 1002, TIGNE STREET SLIEMA MALTA
And one of the photos, at one time a joke, where CZ (Changpeng Zhao) is standing in shorts … society paid attention to the shorts, but the main thing was very close, namely the woman – who is standing in front of Changpeng Zhao in the photo:
We are almost sure that in this photo Changpeng Zhao is standing to the right of Guangying Chen (Heina Chen) at the state reception (Bermuda) and a little further (all in the best Chinese traditions and business etiquette). But the photo shows the real owner and beneficiary of the Binance casino – Guangying Chen (Heina Chen) and the “public face of Binance” on the right side behind – Changpeng Zhao.
A rhetorical question
Why, about the real owner and beneficiary of Binance Guangying Chen (Heina Chen), information is hidden and deleted. And Changpeng Zhao is promoted so well. Who will be liable in the event of any Binance force majeure? Not an offshore company in the Cayman Islands Binance Holdings Limited along with Canadian citizen Changpeng Zhao? Time will show.