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Richard Teng Emerges as Strong Contender for Successor to Binance’s Changpeng Zhao, Industry Speculates

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In the wake of increased regulatory challenges, Binance, the largest crypto exchange in the world, is rumored to be seeking a replacement for CEO Changpeng Zhao. Richard Teng has been seen as a potential contender to fit into Zhao’s shoes. Teng was recently appointed to be in charge of the exchange’s markets outside the United States.

Richard Teng – A Rising Star 

The issue of Changpeng Zhao’s succession has become a matter of urgency at the Binance crypto exchange, as the company faces increasing scrutiny from U.S. financial regulators in recent months. This is according to a Bloomberg News report which cited people familiar with the matter. 

Industry commentators have been speculating on possible candidates to replace Zhao with former Abu Dhabi regulator Richard Teng emerging as a top contender. In late May, Binance appointed Teng to head its regional markets outside the US. 

This comes as reports emerge that Zhao is planning to reduce his stake in Binance.US as a way of appeasing U.S. regulators. 

While speaking to Coindesk, Teng downplayed the idea of him being groomed to take over the top leadership of the crypto giant saying that it would be premature to “speculate on such things.”

However, a former Binance employee has been cited saying:

“Both senior leadership and regulators have discussed behind closed doors that Richard Teng is the only leader that could step into CZ’s shoes and both continue building the company in his vision while helping bridge the existing gap between the industry and regulators.”

If Teng is appointed as Binance CEO, his rich background and extensive regulatory expertise will be instrumental to the company which is already facing intense scrutiny and enforcement actions related to its early years in the crypto industry. Teng’s appointment would signal a strategic effort to address regulatory concerns.

Richard Teng’s Extensive Background

Richard Teng has a wealth of experience working in the financial regulatory space. According to his LinkedIn profile, Teng joined Binance in August 2021 as the CEO of the firm’s Singapore arm. He served in this role for only five months after which he was promoted to head Binance’s markets in the Mena region. 

Since then, the University of Western Australia’s Masters of Applied Finance graduate has served as the exchange’s Head of Europe and Mena, and Head of Asia, Europe, and Mena. He now serves as the crypto platform’s Head of Regional Markets, a role that he started last week on May 29. 

Prior to Binance, he served as Chief Executive Officer of the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), an international financial centre and free zone located on Al Maryah Island in the United Arab Emirates’ capital, Abu Dhabi. Teng served in this role for over six years helping the body to achieve international recognition from fellow global regulators and industry bodies.

The executive has also served as Chief Regulatory Officer of the Singapore Exchange (SGX) and prior to that he was the Director (Corporate Finance) with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS). 

SEC sues Binance and CEO Changpeng Zhao

Binance’s regulatory woes have increased over the past few months. In March, the exchange and CEO were charged by the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) for violating futures and derivatives trading laws. 

SEC vs. Binance

To add to this burden, the US SEC on Monday, sued Binance and Zhao alleging that they operate a “web of deception” and violating securities laws. In the complaint filed in a Federal court in Washington, D.C. on June 5, the SEC lists 13 charges against the exchange, its CEO, and Binance.US. 

The SEC accuses Binance of artificially inflating its trading volumes, diverting customer funds, failing to restrict US customers from its crypto exchange platform and misleading investors about its market surveillance controls.

The regulator also claims that Binance and its billionaire founder secretly controlled customers’ assets, allowing them to mix with the company’s funds and diverted investor funds “as they please.”

SEC Chair Gary Gensler said:

“We allege that Zhao and Binance entities engaged in an extensive web of deception, conflicts of interest, lack of disclosure, and calculated evasion of the law.” 

Binance responded to the accusations in a blog post saying:

“We intend to defend our platform vigorously, … because Binance is not a U.S. exchange, the SEC’s actions are limited in reach.”

Binance tweet

The latest lawsuit piles further pressure on the largest crypto exchange by trading volume and sending its native token Binance Coin (BNB) to its lowest in almost three months.

At the time of writing, BNB trades at $277, down 8% over the last 24 hours. 

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