Who is Richard Teng, responsible for all markets outside of Binance US, and speculated to be the successor of Zhao Changpeng?

Author: Nancy, BlockingNews

On June 5th, Bloomberg reported that as US regulatory agencies have increased scrutiny of Binance in recent months, the succession of its CEO has become more urgent. Informed sources revealed that if Zhao Changpeng resigns, Richard Teng, the newly appointed head of Binance’s Middle East and North Africa region, will be a top candidate to take over as CEO.

At the same time, an anonymous former Binance employee also told CoinDesk that “senior management and regulatory agencies have privately concluded that Richard Teng is the only leader who can take over from Zhao Changpeng and continue to build the company according to his vision, while also helping to bridge the existing gap between the industry and regulatory agencies.”

In response, Richard Teng told CoinDesk in an interview that it is premature to speculate about him being groomed to “succeed Zhao Changpeng as Binance CEO” at this time, and that his new position is not even a promotion, but rather an expansion of his responsibilities to help Zhao Changpeng look at certain things. At the same time, he also said, “If you look back over the past 18 to 24 months, you’ll see that Binance has made a significant pivot towards compliance, but we acknowledge that there have been issues in the past. We want to work with all parties in a responsible way to address all of these policy issues and continue to prove that we are a brand new organization.”

For a time, this recently promoted Binance executive aroused public curiosity. Who is Richard Teng?

Promoted four times in less than two years

Although Richard Teng’s name may be unfamiliar to the outside world, he has been rapidly promoted in less than two years since joining Binance and recently became responsible for all regional markets outside the US.

Public information shows that Richard Teng is a 52-year-old Singaporean with a master’s degree in applied finance from the University of Western Australia. Before joining Binance, Richard Teng worked for 13 years at the Monetary Authority of Singapore and served as the Chief Regulatory Officer of the Singapore Stock Exchange (SGX) for nearly 8 years from 2007, responsible for the formulation, framework, and policies of listing, trading, and clearing rules. He later served as the head of the financial services regulatory bureau of Abu Dhabi Global Market for 6 years.

Richard Teng has more than 20 years of experience in financial services and regulation, making him an ideal candidate to help guide Binance through regulatory challenges. He was also named one of the “100 Most Influential People in the UAE” by Arabian Business. During his tenure as CEO of ADGM’s FSRA, Richard Teng launched several first products, including digital banks, venture capital, fintech regulatory sandboxes, private REIT systems, manager licensing systems, and digital asset trading frameworks.

In August 2021, Richard Teng joined Binance as the Regional CEO of Singapore. From December 2021 to October 2022, Richard Teng served as the new head of Binance’s Middle East and North Africa region. From November 2022 to April 2023, he was in charge of Binance’s Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and non-US regions, and was appointed to lead all regional markets outside the United States two months later. In less than two years, Richard Teng was promoted four times, at almost rocket speed.

Recently, Richard Teng has also frequently represented Binance in various activities, and since May of this year, he has been actively operating his own Twitter account. Out of a total of 29 tweets, 28 have been posted since May, indicating that Richard Teng has significantly increased his external frequency on behalf of Binance since his latest promotion.

Zhao Changpeng (left) and Richard Teng

According to Zhao Changpeng, Richard Teng was introduced by an employee of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, and he decided to hire him two weeks after talking to him. Binance co-founder He Yi spoke highly of the executive in a recent interview, saying, “I think he’s an experienced professional manager, and since he joined Binance, his scope has been continuously expanding. We all like and recognize Richard.”

Crackdown by Multiple Regulators, Is Dubai Key to Binance’s Business Expansion?

In recent months, Binance has been repeatedly questioned by regulatory agencies from various countries such as the United States, Australia, and Canada, and the exchange has had to suspend its services to these regions. Multiple enforcement actions have also caused Binance’s market share to decline. Although Binance’s market share once exceeded half of the market due to the FTX incident, according to the latest data from CCData, the exchange’s market share has dropped by about 10.8% since March of this year.

For Binance, especially under the pressure of US regulation, it is facing a great challenge. For example, in the case of BitMEX, a cryptocurrency exchange that was sued by the US Department of Justice and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), executives left collectively. Samuel Lim, who became Binance’s chief compliance officer in 2018, left in 2022 and was accused by the SEC of assisting and inciting Binance’s violations earlier this year. Compliance has been listed as one of Binance’s top priorities in 2023, and hundreds of employees have been added to Binance’s compliance department. According to Changpeng Zhao, Binance currently has a compliance team of more than 750 people, most of whom have a background in law enforcement and regulatory agencies.

Compared with countries like the United States, Dubai has been viewed as one of the cryptocurrency-friendly countries, attracting thousands of cryptocurrency companies to settle there. Binance has also used Dubai as a new safe haven. It has not only obtained the virtual asset license issued by the Dubai regulatory agency but also has an office and more than 700 employees in the country. Changpeng Zhao has stated that Dubai has become one of the centers of global cryptocurrency innovation, and Binance’s presence in the city is constantly growing. Zhao even bought his first house in Dubai to show his support for the city.

However, after the bankruptcy of FTX, Dubai, which has always been friendly to the cryptocurrency industry, has also begun to scrutinize applicants for cryptocurrency licenses. In February of this year, the Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) released the “2023 Virtual Assets and Related Activities Regulations,” requiring cryptocurrency companies to obtain authorization and relevant licenses to operate in Dubai, covering specific activities such as issuance, consulting, custody, and exchange services, from network security standards to compliance and risk management standards.

According to Bloomberg, officials from the Dubai Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA) have requested that Binance provide more information on its ownership structure, governance, and auditing procedures in recent weeks. VARA requires all international companies seeking licenses to provide similar information. VARA officials are also seeking information on ownership, auditing, and board procedures at the Binance global group level, which poses a new regulatory challenge for Binance’s Dubai plans.

“I believe that the UAE and Dubai are one of the most progressive governments in the world and can lead the world. When working with the Dubai government, you will realize how good this country is in supporting innovation, crypto adoption, and blockchain development. This is helpful because these factors will become the pillars of the future economy. We are considering how to further support the government, share our expertise and knowledge, so that this progressive system can manage systemic risks, anti-money laundering risks, and also support innovation and growth,” said Richard Teng in an interview. For Binance, Richard Teng, who is based in Dubai, may be one of the key figures in its comprehensive entry into the region.

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