Crypto exchange Binance fined by the Dutch central bank

The logo of the Binance cryptocurrency exchange displayed on a smartphone against the backdrop of stock market interest rates.

Omar Marquez | SOPA images | LightRocket via Getty Images

Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, was fined 3.3 million euros ($3.4 million) by the Dutch central bank on Monday for operating in the Netherlands without registering.

The fine came after De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) warned in August 2021 last year that Binance was offering crypto services in the country without permission.

The company was fined Category 3, the most severe of the three levels of DNB enforcement. The charge was placed on an upper limit of €2 million to €4 million that the bank could impose “due to the seriousness and degree of culpability of the non-compliance,” DNB said in a statement.

According to the central bank, the disruption took place over a “long period”, from May 21, 2020 until at least December. 1, 2021. “This is why the DNB considers non-compliance to be very serious,” the regulator said.

DNB said it also took into account the size of Binance and “a very significant customer base in the Netherlands.” According to CoinGecko, the company is the largest crypto exchange in the world with $15.5 billion in daily spot trading volume.

Binance filed an appeal against the fine on June 2, according to DNB.

A Binance spokesperson said the company hopes to put an end to the spat as it pursues its Dutch license.

“Today’s decision marks a welcome turn in our ongoing collaboration with the Dutch Central Bank,” the spokesperson said via email.

“While we do not share the same opinion on every aspect of the decision, we deeply respect the authority and professionalism of the Dutch regulators in enforcing the rules at their discretion.”

This development goes against Binance’s recent change of tone towards reconciliation with global regulators. In the past, Binance operated largely outside the law, with its CEO, Changpeng Zhao, often boasting about the lack of an official global headquarters.

Since then, he has tried to become a friend, not an enemy, of regulators, especially in Europe, where he has received licenses in France, Italy and Spain.

The penalty in the Netherlands was reduced by 5% as Binance applied for registration and was “relatively transparent” about its operations during the process, DNB said. The central bank says it is still reviewing Binance’s application.