The world’s largest crypto exchange in terms of trading volume, Binance, and its founder and CEO, Changpeng Zhao, pled guilty to money laundering charges.
This sheds light on the fact that the company moved stablecoins worth billions before the settlement had been finalized.
On November 9th, a Tether (USDT) transaction worth $3.9 billion had been completed and it is quite close to the penalty of $4.3 billion that Binance has agreed to pay as part of the settlement.
Binance moved out most of its money from one cold wallet called Binance-Cold 2 into another one of its wallets.
The wallet currently contains funds that are valued at $6.6 billion. This includes Tether tokens worth $4 billion and the remaining are in the form of different stablecoins.
TrueUSD (TUSD), USDC, and Decentralized USD (USDD) are some other tokens available in the wallet.
As far as the recipient wallet is concerned, it contains assets worth $3.2 billion, most of which are in the form of Tether (USDT).
Binance has previously revealed that most of the company’s funds are kept in the cold wallets it owns.
It remains unclear whether Binance is planning on using these funds to pay the fine imposed on it by the US government, or if it intends to redeem the USDT tokens for US dollars or a different fiat currency.
Most of the $88.3 billion USDT tokens have been issued as TRC-20 tokens on the Tron blockchain. Even though it has a checkered history, Tether remains a crucial, if controversial player, in the crypto market.
Most of the crypto trading volume is in the form of stablecoins and traders use them for entering and exiting trades without requiring a fiat currency, such as US dollars.
In addition, Tether (USDT) is also the industry’s largest stablecoin. The total number of USDT tokens in circulation worth $88 billion are about 6% of the crypto market cap.
USDC is its closest competitor, which has a market cap of about $24 billion. But, US regulators have been scrutinizing Tether for years.
The company made a settlement in 2021, which involved a payment of $18 million, in an investigation into whether it truly held $1 in fiat for backing each token it had issued.
According to detractors, it was not possible for Tether to have enough cash to back the billions of stablecoins it had issued.
The stablecoin issuer has constantly denied such claims and has called them fear-mongering, even though it has also failed to produce an independent and full audit.
In recent news, Tether had disclosed that it was working with authorities to freeze funds worth $225 million that seemed to be related to human trafficking.
The USDT transfer by Binance had happened shortly before the crypto exchange had agreed to pay criminal fines worth $1.8 billion related to criminal charges.
They will also forfeit an additional $2.5 billion out of which $1.6 billion will be used for resolutions with the OFAC, FinCEN and CFTC.