A federal judge has dismissed a class action complaint asserting Binance violated U.S. securities laws by not registering as a broker-dealer or exchange, and sold crypto tokens which were not registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
The original complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York was brought by a group of investors who say they invested in the tokens EOS, BNT, SNT, QSP, KNC, TRX, FUN, ICX, OMG, LEND, ELF, and CVC around 2017 and 2018. An amended complaint was filed, only listing nine tokens, with BNT, SMT, and CVC removed.
The investors said the tokens had lost much of their value since purchasing, and were seeking compensation for the price paid for the tokens and the fees paid to Binance in connection with their purchases.
“Binance and the Issuers wrongfully engaged in millions of transactions, including the solicitation, offer, and sale of securities, without registering the Tokens as securities, and without Binance registering with the SEC as an exchange or broker-dealer. As a result, investors were not informed of the significant risks inherent in these investments, as federal and state securities laws require.”
The investors further claimed that Binance capitalized on the enthusiasm brought on by cryptocurrencies, marketing tokens and initial coin offerings (ICOs) on behalf of projects, and profited off the associated trading fees, and added they “purchased the tokens with a reasonable expectation of profit from owning them”.
In his decision on Thursday, March 31st, Judge Andrew L. Carter said that as the investors waited more than a year after purchasing the tokens to file the complaint, they had sued too late. Most of the tokens were purchased in 2018 and the original filing wasn’t until April 2020.
The investors argued that as the SEC published a framework asserting digital tokens were securities in April 2020, that the timeline for complaint submission should have started then, but Carter found that the relevant laws apply when the supposed violation occurs, not when it is detected.
Judge Carter also said that domestic securities laws are not applicable to Binance, as it is not a domestic exchange in the U.S., being headquartered in the Cayman Islands. Binance does use Amazon Web Services to host its infrastructure andthat is based in the U.S., but that isn’t enough to consider Binance as a domestic exchange.
“Plaintiffs must allege more than stating that plaintiffs bought tokens while located in the U.S. and that title passed in whole or in part over servers located in California that host Binance’s website,” Carter wrote in the motion.
This isn’t the only class action lawsuit filed against a crypto exchange on such grounds. On March 11, a suit was filed against Coinbase in the same court, alleging it’s operating as an unregistered securities exchange. Similar arguments are being directed at Coinbase, with plaintiffs saying they were not warned of the risks of cryptocurrency investments.
Binance did not immediately respond to Cointelegraph’s request for comment.