Israel seized Binance crypto accounts to 'thwart' Islamic State
Israel has seized around 190 crypto accounts at crypto exchange Binance since 2021, including two it said were linked to Islamic State and dozens of others it said were owned by Palestinian firms connected to the Islamist Hamas group, documents released by the country's counter-terror authorities show.To get more news about BINANCE, you can visit wikifx.com official website.
Israel's National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing (NBCTF) on Jan. 12 confiscated two Binance accounts and their contents, one of the documents on the NBCTF's website showed. The seizure was to "thwart the activity" of Islamic State and "impair its ability to further its goals," the NBCTF said on its website.The NBCTF document, which has not been previously reported, did not give any details on the value of the crypto seized, nor how the accounts were connected to Islamic State.
Binance, the world's largest crypto exchange by trading volumes, did not respond to Reuters' calls and emails seeking comment before this article was published on Thursday.The exchange has been "working closely with international counter-terrorism authorities" on the seizures, Binance said. "With regard to the specific organizations mentioned in the article, it's important to clarify that bad actors don't register accounts under the names of their criminal enterprises," it said.
Israel's defence ministry, which is responsible for the NBCTF, did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.
Under Israeli law, the country's defence minister can order the seizure and confiscation of assets that the ministry deems related to terrorism.
Regulators globally have long called for tighter controls on crypto exchanges to prevent illegal activities, from money laundering to the financing of terrorism. The seizures by Israel's NBCTF highlight how governments are targeting crypto companies in their efforts to prevent illegal activity.Binance, founded in 2017 by CEO Changpeng Zhao, says on its website it reviews information requests from governments and law enforcement agencies on a case-by-case basis, disclosing information as legally required.
Binance has also said it checks users for connections to terrorism and has "continued to invest tremendous resources to enhance its compliance program," it told U.S. senators in March in response to their requests for information on Binance's regulatory compliance and finances.
The exchange's policies and processes comply with European Union anti-money laundering and counter terrorism-financing requirements, Binance said in its blog on Thursday.Islamic State emerged in Syria after Iraq's civil war. At its 2014 peak, it controlled a third of Iraq and Syria, before being beaten back. Now forced underground, Islamic State militants continue to wage insurgent attacks.
The U.S. Treasury said in a report last year that Islamic State had received crypto donations it later converted to cash, accessing funds via crypto trading platforms. The Treasury did not specify which platforms and declined to comment for this article.
The owner of the two Islamic State-linked Binance accounts seized by Israel was a 28-year old Palestinian called Osama Abuobayda, the NBCTF document shows. Abuoyada did not respond to requests for comment via email addresses and a phone number listed in the NBCTF document.
In a series of investigations last year, Reuters reported that Binance intentionally kept weak anti-money laundering controls. Since 2017, Binance has processed over $10 billion in payments for criminals and companies seeking to evade U.S. sanctions, Reuters reported. Binance disputed the articles, calling the illicit-fund calculations inaccurate and the descriptions of its compliance controls "outdated."
Two men suspected by Germany of assisting an Islamist gunman who killed four people in Vienna in 2020 used Binance, a letter from German police to the company said. Islamic State later claimed responsibility for the attack.