Malta’s financial watchdog, the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA), has issued a statement claiming leading cryptocurrency exchange Binance is “not authorized” to operate in the country.
In the statement, the MFSA cites reports in the media referring to the cryptocurrency trading platform as a “Malta-based cryptocurrency company,” and revealed that Binance “Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA).
The cryptocurrency exchange announced it was opening an office in Malta in March 2018 shortly after it received a warning from Japan’s Financial Services Agency, telling it to stop operating in the country without official approval. At the time, Malta’s Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, welcome the cryptocurrency exchange. At the time Malta was starting to be known as the “blockchain island” thanks to its pro-crypto stance.
While it isn’t clear whether Binance still has offices in Malta, press releases sent to cryptocurrency publications list Malta in the dateline as recently as February 11, 2020. Officially, Binance hasn’t revealed where its headquarters are located.
On social media, its CEO Changpeng Zhao addressed reports on the MFSA’s statement claiming there’s a “mix of truth, FUD & misconception” associated with them. Per his words, Binance isn’t headquartered or operated in Malta. He added there as misconceptions as “some people” believe the world “must work a certain way, you must have offices, HQ, etc.”
In its statement, the MFSA did say it is assessing if the cryptocurrency exchange has activities in Malta that “may not fall within the realm of regulatory oversight.” The regulator added that since the passing of the Virtual Financial Assets Act of 2018, businesses in Malta trading or offering cryptocurrencies have to be fully licensed.