The Singapore arm of cryptocurrency exchange Binance has appointed the former regulatory chief at the Singapore Exchange (SGX) as chief executive.

Richard Teng

Richard Teng was chief regulatory officer at SGX from 2007 until 2015, and had spent 13 years at the Monetary Authority Singapore (MAS) before that, with his most recent title being director of corporate finance.

Teng joins Binance Singapore from the Financial Services Regulatory Authority at Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) where he had been chief executive since 2015, the firm said in a statement on Sunday (August 22).

The appointment comes three weeks after Binance US chief executive Brian Brooks, a former banking regulator, stepped down from his position after just three months in the role.

The cryptocurrency exchange, the world’s biggest by trading volume, has also come under pressure from governments such as the US which has opened a probe into the tech firm for money laundering and tax evasion.

Territories including Hong Kong, Italy, Japan and the UK have accused Binance of conducting regulated activities without authorisation.

 In contrast, Singapore has taken a friendlier stance towards cryptocurrencies, passing the Payment Services Act in January last year and allowing digital payment providers, which include crypto exchanges, exemptions from holding a licence if they submitted licence applications within a grace period of six months.

The MAS has received nearly 500 applications for the digital payment token licence, and while the regulator has not yet approved any, “several applications are in the final stages of review”, senior minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said during a July parliamentary sitting.

Binance is domiciled in the Cayman Islands and has an office in Singapore. Billionaire founder Changpeng Zhao is also based out of Singapore.

In 2018, Vertex Ventures, which is owned by state investment firm Temasek Holdings, invested an undisclosed amount into Binance.