Binance in talks with SGX veteran Richard Teng for top Singapore role, sources say

Mr Richard Teng stepped down as head of the Abu Dhabi Global Market in March after six years with the business centre. PHOTO: BT FILE

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - Binance Holdings is in talks with a former senior Singapore bourse executive about taking the top job at its local business in the Asian financial hub, as the crypto exchange seeks to appease regulators around the globe.

Binance is in discussions about the chief executive role with Richard Teng, who stepped down as head of the Abu Dhabi Global Market in March after six years with the business centre, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The crypto exchange has also approached other executives about the position, one of the sources said, asking to not to be identified because the information is confidential. It is not clear if Mr Teng, who returned to Singapore from the United Arab Emirates in April, has accepted the job.

Mr Teng was previously Singapore Exchange's chief regulatory officer, and spent 13 years at the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), according to his LinkedIn profile.

Mr Teng declined to comment when contacted on his mobile phone. A spokesman for Binance also declined to comment.

Founded in 2017, years after many other exchanges, Binance has quickly gained market share partly by being more aggressive and following fewer regulations than rivals such as Coinbase Global. It is now the world's biggest crypto spot and derivatives exchange - at a time when the industry is drawing the attention of officials around the world. Binance and its affiliated entities have come under scrutiny in recent months from regulators in countries such as the United States, Britain, Thailand and Japan.

At a recent press conference, Binance founder and CEO Zhao Changpeng said the firm will establish multiple headquarters globally and is looking for regional CEOs - as well as, potentially, his successor - with compliance experience a big focus in the selection process.

Binance Asia Services, Binance's Singapore unit, is operating within a grace period while MAS reviews its application for a licence to provide digital payment token services. The regulator said last month it would follow up as required with the local unit of Binance Holdings after its parent company came under scrutiny.

The potential appointment of a former regulator alone won't be enough to placate regulators in financial centres such as Singapore, according to Chia Hock Lai, co-chairman of the Blockchain Association Singapore.

"There are other various factors to consider - such as, but not limited to, having a strong compliance track record" in the digital token business, and the ability to comply with travel-rule guidance, Mr Chia said. Firms must also have strong technology risk-management systems, he said.

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