Binance’s lowkey profile is one of the most powerful women in crypto, as well as the mother of CZ’s children.
A low-profile but highly influential senior executive at Binance has spoken out as the company begins legal battles against two top market regulators in the United States.
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Yi He, who boasts a massive fortune as one of the company’s early shareholders, has also had children with Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ).
The SEC Lawsuit
He spoke to Bloomberg in a series of interviews – one of which took place in Dubai last month, shortly before the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) launched a 136-page lawsuit against her company.
At that time, the Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) had already sued the company on some overlapping charges, such as serving U.S.-based customers from its international platform. He struck a conciliatory tone with such regulators, saying she respects their “attitude” and “intentions.”
Nevertheless, she still thinks their actions are misguided. “If they really took the time to understand our industry, they would see that if Binance isn’t compliant, then practically no other global trading platform or offshore company is,” she said.
Binance published a blog post on Thursday outlining the lengths to which it tries to remain legally compliant worldwide. The company’s 8000-person workforce includes “750 core and supporting compliance staff” consisting of “former law enforcement officers, regulators, crypto, fintech, and traditional banking compliance experts.”
The exchange is known for having no formal headquarters, thus making it theoretically harder to sue or regulate. It’s also been criticized for being shrouded in opacity, from its governance structure to its handling of client assets.
According to He, Binance offers more transparency than its critics often claim and strives to cooperate with regulators rather than evade them. “The trend of regulations is inevitable globally,” she said. “It’s not something you can solve by shouting ‘fight’ a couple of times.”
Yi He and CZ: What’s Going On?
He’s history with CZ stretches back years to her time at OKCoin in 2014, where she later hired him as a Chief Technology Officer (CTO). CZ later asked her to be a consultant at Binance in 2017, where she helped rewrite parts of the company’s whitepaper.
She’s also the mother of CZ’s children – an open secret among crypto industry insiders. “What do they call it in the entertainment industry? CP?” she said when questioned on the topic. CP is a Chinese internet slang term for ‘shipping.’
He referred to Zhao less as a romantic partner and more as a “comrade in arms,” rejecting comparisons of their relationship to that of failed FTX and Alameda CEOs Sam Bankman-Fried and Caroline Ellison.
In fact, He claimed she and CZ’s relationship went beyond dating in some capacity. “A co-founder relationship is about comradeship, a dating relationship is about chemistry. The former is based on shared beliefs and goes beyond gender, the latter is based on physical attraction and selfish desires,” she said.
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