Did Stéphanie Cabossioras commit acts of illegal interest by leaving the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF) to join Binance France? This is the accusation made by the Anticor association, which has filed a report with the courts. Here’s a closer look at what could be a thorny issue for the ex-director of the exchange platform, and one that puts the spotlight back on her arrival on French soil.
An alert targets Stéphanie Cabossioras for her move from AMF to Binance France
Stéphanie Cabossioras is a senior civil servant, who cut her teeth as a magistrate at the Cour des Comptes and former deputy director of legal affairs at the Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF). Her arrival at Binance France, initially as Legal Director, had already been the subject of comment. At the time, the exchange platform was seeking to show its credentials to the regulatory authorities in order to obtain the status of digital asset service provider (DASP).
Stéphanie Cabossioras then became General Manager of Binance France, but her reign was short-lived, as she stepped down last October, less than a year after her ascent. At the time, little was known about the reasons for her departure. This week, however, a report from the Anticor association once again highlights the former AMF executive’s time at Binance.
The anti-corruption group has just forwarded a report to the courts. It accuses Stéphanie Cabossioras of having joined Binance France at a key moment: just one month before Binance was awarded PSAN status. Yet this status is issued by the AMF: the association therefore links the arrival of the senior civil servant to the issuing of the Sesame
Illegal breach of interest for the former senior civil servant?
Anticor points out that the registration process with the AMF is normally based on extensive checks, particularly with regard to executives. Back in 2018, Binance was the target of an investigation by the US Treasury. It should also be noted that since February 2022, a few months before Stéphanie Cabossioras’ arrival, Binance France had been the target of an investigation by the Paris public prosecutor’s office for canvassing customers without having received prior authorization.
According to the Anticor association’s lawyer, the arrival of the AMF executive at Binance France at this key moment would therefore be a common occurrence :
“[This shows] the lack of awareness of the risks of conflicts of interest when moving back and forth between the public and private sectors in France. “
Interviewed by Agence France-Presse (AFP), Binance reacted to this report, explaining that Stéphanie Cabossioras’ transfer was perfectly legal:
Stéphanie Cabossioras received authorization from the AMF [for her transfer], whose ethics committee is the only body empowered to issue authorizations or prohibitions. This is a standard procedure, and Binance waited until it was completed before formally hiring Stéphanie Cabossioras. “
While this transfer was legal, it does not say whether Stéphanie Cabossioras used her links with the AMF to speed up the process for Binance, enabling it to obtain PSAN status despite its international legal difficulties. According to Anticor, this could therefore constitute illegal interest-taking, an offence punishable by up to 5 years’ imprisonment.
Following the publication of this article, Stéphanie Cabossioras contacted us to express her right of reply, which is as follows:
“I contest in the strongest possible terms these slanderous allegations, which are absolutely unfounded. All the stages of the procedure usually applicable to the departure of a public employee from the AMF to the private sector have been rigorously respected. The Chairman of the AMF gave a favourable opinion after consulting the ethics officer. Furthermore, I had no role or influence in the Binance France registration process either before or after my departure from the AMF. “
MP Aurore Lalucq, known for her very anti-crypto stance, welcomed the report, which she described as a “scandal”:
“Binance”: a name that probably means nothing to you.
– Aurore Lalucq (@AuroreLalucq) December 13, 2023
This case, which began a year and a half after the event, is also similar to a complaint filed at the end of 2022 by Binance investors. They accuse the French government, including Emmanuel Macron and Cédric O, of having shown “complacency” by opening its arms to Binance, when the platform was not yet authorized to advertise in France.
The suspicions surrounding Binance’s registration as a digital asset service provider have long been raised, and the report by the Anticor association could lead to a scandal in France. The exchange platform, which has already been in trouble in recent months, could thus be facing a major new legal case, after its CEO Changpeng Zhao was forced to jump ship after being found guilty of violating anti-money laundering laws.