Finding Focus With the Binance Compliance Team

2023-05-09

Main Takeaways

  • Binance will always work closely with regulators and policymakers to ensure compliance for a bright crypto future.

  • Together, Noah Perlman (Chief Compliance Officer), Steven Christie (Senior VP of Compliance), and Kristen Hecht (Global Head of Corporate Compliance) head an industry-leading team of over 750 core and supporting compliance professionals.

  • Compliance helps keep users safe and builds trust across the whole industry.

Get to know our industry-leading compliance leaders and learn about the work they do with regulators, internal teams, and the Binancian community.

Binance’s dedication to compliance is a core pillar of our culture and operations. Every staff member works diligently towards supporting our compliance efforts as part of their duty to users. In a time of uncertainty in the traditional financial sector, the blockchain world has an even bigger imperative to develop and uphold compliant practices and services. 

Step forward, Binance’s compliance leaders:

  • Noah Perlman, Chief Compliance Officer

  • Steven Christie, Senior VP of Compliance

  • Kristen Hecht, Global Head of Corporate Compliance

Together, Noah, Steven, and Kristen work with over 750 core and supporting compliance personnel at Binance. Our compliance team continues to increase the freedom of money globally through cooperation with regulators and institutions worldwide. There’s no better way to understand their work than to hear their Binance stories, thoughts, and backgrounds yourself.

What Does Binance’s Compliance Team Do?

Let’s first take a quick look at what compliance means and what our team does to achieve this goal. Financial compliance ensures that our services, products, and activities align with local financial rules and regulations. Compliance also helps ensure that Binance is a safe, secure place for our users, and as such, adhering to these rules is our compliance team’s goal. 

To give you an idea of the scope of our compliance work, below are a few examples of what our team does in this regard.

  1. We make sure we know who our users are by conducting mandatory Know Your Customer (KYC) checks.

  2. We ensure that our users use Binance for permitted activities by performing transaction monitoring and sanctions screening.

  3. When we spot suspicious activity, we investigate and, when appropriate or necessary, cooperate with law enforcement to help victims.

  4. We are thought leaders, cooperating not only with the industry but also with regulators and policymakers to ensure rules and regulations are well crafted to help crypto grow safely.

Getting to Know Our Compliance Leaders

Managing essential compliance requirements requires diversified experience across the financial, crypto, and regulatory sectors. That’s why Binance has made great efforts to hire what we consider an industry-leading compliance team. We’re incredibly proud of our compliance leaders, and we hope the following introductions help you understand the seriousness with which we treat the matter.

Noah Perlman, Chief Compliance Officer

With extensive professional experience in law enforcement, legal, and crypto, Noah has a background built for compliance. Before joining Binance, Noah was Chief Operating Officer and Chief Compliance Officer at crypto exchange Gemini, following a 13-year stint at Morgan Stanley. Earlier in his career, he was with the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and US Attorney’s Office.

Noah’s crypto journey began when he sat on a committee at Morgan Stanley to evaluate crypto opportunities. “It was through that experience that I first became exposed to, interested in, and ultimately convinced that crypto would be a significant part of the future of finance,” Noah says.

"I wanted to be a part of it!”

Leading Binance’s compliance efforts is no easy feat, given its global scale and the age of the industry. Noah understands well the task at hand and works daily to meet users' needs for a platform that is compliant, safe, and free from fraud.

“Investing in and creating a world-class compliance program is consistent with our user focus. Our mission, quite simply stated, is to help Binance achieve its strategic goals while protecting the firm from regulatory, legal, and reputational risk.”

Within his first several months at Binance, Noah has also taken the time to get to know his team a little better. “There’s a tremendous amount of subject matter expertise, and we even have numerous senior members of the department who have previously served as CCO at other companies in the industry,” he states proudly.

Noah has already taken part in collaborative efforts with global law enforcement agencies, including a recent multi-million dollar seizure of crypto stolen from victims by a sophisticated criminal gang operating an international romance scam.

When it comes to compliance, Noah has a tip or two for Binancians looking to stay safe in the crypto world.

“The rules and judgment you apply to decisions you make in the traditional financial world are equally applicable to crypto. Specifically, engage with platforms that take risk and controls seriously. A look at whether they have licenses is one obvious clue. And second? If an opportunity seems too good to be true, it probably is!”

Kristen Hecht: Global Head of Corporate Compliance

Kristen brings over 17 years of experience with her to Binance’s compliance team. Her background includes working on US government efforts to combat illicit financial activity. In addition, Kristen also spent many years in financial crime compliance in the global banking and crypto wallet industries. 

After an almost nine-year tenure with the US Department of the Treasury, Kristen moved to HSBC, ultimately becoming Head of Financial Crime Compliance for HSBC China. Subsequently, Kristen cut her crypto teeth at Novi Financial, a digital asset wallet solution, acting under its parent company Meta. Kristen’s take on crypto and compliance is clear:

“Crypto, particularly blockchain technology, is the future. Building and evolving best-in-class compliance programs is the right thing to do as the industry’s technology advances.”

Since joining the compliance team in January 2023, Kristen has strived to support and evolve Binance’s existing compliance program into an industry-leading example of excellence. A key part of this journey is including all of Binance’s personnel. This measure ensures everyone is informed of and updated on the company’s compliance program, policy requirements, and the compliance team’s principles.

“It’s crucial that the company embraces and maintains compliant practices,” Kristen notes.

 “Keeping our users' assets safe and building strong and dependable relationships with regulators worldwide is a key business enabler. It’s a competitive advantage in a market where transparency is the foundation of everything we do.”

Key to the compliance team’s success is having productive and regular engagements with Binance’s business partners, particularly in the banking and payments sector.

“I regularly work with our business teams to support partner relationships and requests. I explain how our compliance program is designed and how it operates effectively to mitigate risks associated with their products, services, and the users we serve. We always aim to ensure our partners meet and exceed their regulators’ expectations and requirements.” 

Kristen is continuing to build the corporate compliance function by designing and implementing effective and sustainable programs. These programs span several areas, including regulatory exam management, product compliance, risk assessments, and quality assurance. 

Kristen acknowledges that when hiring for her team, she’s “always looking for the right talent, especially people who are committed to user protection and effectively managing risk in a very dynamic ecosystem.”

For anyone involved in the blockchain world, Kristen has some sage words of compliance advice: “Staying compliant and keeping your digital assets secure requires personal responsibility. Make sure you do your own due diligence.

“Understand whether your digital asset service providers are committed to meeting regulatory requirements and offering explanations about their compliance programs. This includes KYC requirements, fraud protection, and sanctions screening.” 

Steven Christie: Senior VP of Compliance

Steven’s roughly 20 years in anti-financial crime and compliance provides him with a broad background to tap into. His career has spanned traditional banking, real estate, foreign exchange, and crypto. 

Steven entered the crypto scene in 2015 after spending seven years at Bank of the West, where he held multiple roles, including head of the AML Investigations unit. Before joining Binance, Steven also spent five years as the Global Head of Compliance at Kraken Digital Asset Exchange. 

“I became interested in crypto during my time at Bank of the West, where the bank began investigating clients who were investing in crypto,” Steven recalls. The more he learned about Bitcoin via investigations and educational events, the more he felt the banking sector was taking the wrong approach to crypto and its investors. 

“The premise of Bitcoin also fed the streak of libertarianism that I have, which is at many times in conflict with my role as a Compliance Officer.”

As Steven disagreed with the banking sector’s position on crypto exposure, he made the jump into the crypto industry. The rest, as they say, is history.

At Binance, Steve’s compliance goal is to unlock the widest possible array of products and services for its users. He believes Binance must be able to demonstrate a strong compliance program capable of:

  1. Complying with the ever-changing global regulatory landscape.

  2. Mitigating the risks on our platform and the perceived risks Binance’s strategic banking partners may have.

Since Steven joined, he’s seen Binance build on its significant investments in personnel and technology. He’s also witnessed the expansion of Binance’s globally recognized law enforcement training and outreach programs. 

“Through these, we’ve been able to train law enforcement agencies and regulators globally on how to leverage the transparency of the blockchain.”

Steven is also proud of the work that has gone into optimizing the team’s organizational structure. This has facilitated the hiring of deep talent pools of experts leading the industry in AML investigations, enhanced due diligence, and sanctions controls. 

For Steven, technology has progressed by leaps and bounds during his time at Binance. “We’re integrating industry-leading technology to create rich data sets. We then leverage these to identify risks, conduct research, and efficiently investigate anomalies and suspect behavior. All of this can also be customized to meet the local nuances of all the jurisdictions in which we operate.”

Steven also notes the importance of doing your own research (DYOR) and builds on Noah’s advice for crypto enthusiasts:

“Always, always do your own research before you decide to invest in any product, crypto or traditional.  If you come across a deal that seems too good to be true, it probably is just that. There are no get-rich-quick schemes."

“When you decide to invest, take the time to evaluate the platforms and companies you will entrust your assets to, diversify your portfolio, and consider keeping only the amount of assets you need to trade on an exchange or other third-party service. Self-custody can greatly benefit those who take the time to learn how to do it.”

Our Compliance Efforts Are of the Utmost Importance

Binance’s compliance efforts are critical to one of our core values: being user-focused. We want to ensure users are accessing crypto safely, securely, and compliantly. The work of the three leaders we’ve outlined today is part of a wider effort by all Binance employees to achieve our compliance goals. 

With transparency and accountability on our side, we’re sure the importance Noah, Steven, Kristen, and all of us at Binance place on user safety and compliance in the crypto sector is evident.

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