The former head of the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC), Brian Brooks, resigned as CEO of Binance.US last week, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing a post from him on the social media platform Twitter. Brooks had only recently joined the company in the role on May 1.
At the OCC, Brooks enacted regulations that helped financial institutions branch into crypto, the paper reported.
Founder and CEO of Binance, Changpeng Zhao, tweeted that "Brian's work for Binance.US has been invaluable and we hope he will continue to be an integral part of the crypto industry’s growth, advocating for regulations that move our industry forward."
Brooks quit his role at San Francisco-based Binance.US, according to the Twitter post, citing "differences over strategic direction." Brooks worked for only three months at the company, which is the American branch of Binance — the Chinese company that operates the largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume.
Brooks tweeted this on Friday: "Letting you all know I have resigned as CEO of @BinanceUS. Despite differences over strategic direction, I wish my former colleagues much success. Exciting new things to come!"
Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange by volume, launched the U.S. arm in 2019. But the company’s main exchange, initially based in China, blocked Americans in an effort to stay on the right side of regulators.
Prior to joining Binance, Brooks served as the Comptroller of the Currency between May 2020 and January 2021. At the OCC, Brooks established a reputation as a crypto-currency-friendly regulator, earning the nickname "CryptoComptroller."
Under Brooks’ leadership, the OCC began allowing banks in July to provide cryptocurrency custody services and store cryptographic keys. And this January, the OCC first permitted banks to use stablecoins for payments.
Before joining the OCC, Brooks worked as the chief legal officer for Coinbase, a major competitor to Binance.US. Recently, such platforms have come under increased scrutiny by lawmakers and regulators.
In the past months, Binance has been put under the microscope by regulators in the U.S., Britain, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong and elsewhere.
In the U.S., Binance has been the subject of an investigation by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which is investigating if the platform allowed users to trade derivatives, flouting CFTC regulations. The CFTC investigation is directed at Binance, even though Americans must use Binance.US instead. And in May, the Department of Justice and Internal Revenue Service commenced money laundering investigations into the company.
It is unclear what impact these investigations may have had on Brooks’ decision to resign. According to the Wall Street Journal, Zhao stated that he would be willing to step down as the CEO of Binance to resolve the company’s regulatory problems.
"I remain confident in Binance.US’s business and its commitment to serve its customers and innovate," Zhao tweeted Friday, adding, "this transition will not impact Binance.US customers in any way."