Binance names new general counsel amid heightened regulatory scrutiny

Quick Take

  • Binance has promoted Eleanor Hughes to the position of general counsel, filling the void left by Han Ng, who recently left the company.
  • Hughes was most recently the head of legal for APAC and MENA, and has helped the exchange to secure licenses in Bahrain, Dubai and New Zealand.

Binance has named Eleanor Hughes as its new general counsel, as the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange continues to grapple with legal challenges in multiple jurisdictions.

Hughes, who joined Binance’s legal team in November 2021, most recently held the role of head of legal for APAC and MENA at the company, Binance said in a statement shared with The Block. 

Hughes will lead Binance’s legal affairs with a team of 85 lawyers, working in concert with the global compliance team to tackle regulatory and legal issues.

“With Eleanor at the helm, I am confident that our industry-leading legal team will continue to excel in its mission to always protect users and manage risks on our platform,” Changpeng Zhao, founder and chief executive officer of Binance, said in the statement.

Hughes has helped the company secure virtual asset service provider licenses in jurisdictions including Bahrain, Dubai and New Zealand.

Legal, regulatory trouble

Binance currently finds itself in the crosshairs of multiple U.S. regulators, with the Commodities Futures Trading Commission first filing a lawsuit against it in March. The Securities and Exchange Commission also sued the exchange and Zhao last month for allegedly violating securities laws.

Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Justice has reportedly been investigating whether Binance was used to let Russians evade U.S. sanctions.

The appointment of Hughes fills the void left by former general counsel Han Ng. Ng departed last week along with a number of other senior executives, including chief strategy officer Patrick Hillmann and SVP for compliance Steven Christie, according to Fortune. Fortune reported that Binance is in full-on turmoil amid a DoJ probe, with a mini-exodus of senior officials adding to the pressure.

Zhao branded the reports surrounding the departures “FUD” in a tweet last week, claiming they are simply part of normal staff turnover. He said the causes of the departures were “dreamed up” by news outlets. FUD is a commonly-used term in the crypto community referring to fear, uncertainty and doubt.

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