Evidence in SEC suit includes 2022 testimony of Binance.US’ long silent ex-CEO

Former Binance.US CEO Catherine Coley, who is transparently known as “BAM CEO A” in the suit against Binance filed by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on June 5, has kept a low profile since her departure. However, she provided testimony to the SEC in 2022 when it was investigating the company for insider trading. 

That testimony has resurfaced as an exhibit in the SEC’s new case against the cryptocurrency exchange. Coley’s 2022 testimony was apparently quite long as the selections that constitute Exhibit 86 in the June 6 case have page numbers that range from 135 to 336. Those passages mainly concern the separation of Binance and Binance.US, which was the subject of major allegations in the SEC suit.

Related: SEC lawsuit claims Binance.US, Changpeng Zhao put customer funds ‘at significant risk’

Coley was the Binance.US CEO from its founding in 2019 until her resignation in 2021. As recounted in the SEC suit, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, also known as “CZ,” was involved in Coley’s hiring, but she quickly became frustrated with Binance.US’ lack of independence. The suit quotes her from the 2022 testimony:

“I wanted full independence of everything, but that wouldn’t necessarily be possible or be possible at that time, given our reliance on some of those components [in four service-level agreements with Binance.com].”

The service-level agreements between Binance and Binance.US were a Master Services Agreement, a Wallet Custody Agreement, a Software License Agreement and a Trademark Agreement.

The wallet agreement particularly irked Coley, who testified in 2022, “The wallet and custody was one that I wanted to have, at least U.S. participation in so that we would have control over the custody of the tokens.” Trading data was covered by the agreements. “I wanted custody of the data and ability to interact with the raw data in real-time,” she said.

The suit quotes Coley from internal communications in addition to the 2022 testimony. These include her references to Binance.US’ efforts to receive more independence as “Project 1776” and a blunt interaction about wash trading.

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