Binance appoints general counsel as legal woes mount

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 14 Jul 2023
Eleanor Hughes, Binance general counsel.
Eleanor Hughes, Binance general counsel.

Binance, the world’s biggest blockchain and crypto-currency infrastructure provider, has appointed Eleanor Hughes as its general counsel.

In her new role, Hughes will lead the company’s legal affairs alongside a team of 85 lawyers.

In a statement, the company says she will work closely with the global compliance team to support Binance’s commitment to responsibly growing the industry, in close collaboration with regulators and policymakers globally.

The appointment comes as Binance faces a number of lawsuits. Last month, the Securities and Exchange Commission in the US charged Binance; US-based affiliate, BAM Trading, which, together with Binance, operates the crypto asset trading platform, Binance.US; and their founder, Changpeng Zhao, with a variety of securities law violations.

In another legal stand-off in the US, in March the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) sued Zhao and three entities that operate the exchange, alleging numerous violations of the Commodity Exchange Act and CFTC regulations.

Binance refuted all the allegations, saying it will challenge the accusations in court.

Says Zhao about the appointment of Hughes: “Eleanor has been working at Binance for nearly two years now and, during that period, she has quickly grown to be a trusted advisor to me and Binance on legal matters.

“Her extensive legal experience, strong industry knowledge, deep integrity and great work ethic make her an indispensable asset to the company. With Eleanor at the helm, I am confident our legal team will continue to excel in its mission to always protect users and manage risks on our platform.”

Hughes joined Binance’s legal team in November 2021. She was subsequently promoted to head of legal for APAC and MENA for Binance, where she oversaw matters in the two regions and managed a team of lawyers specialising in regulatory affairs, mergers and acquisitions, commercial law and litigation, says the company.

It adds that she played an important role in securing virtual asset service provider licences and registrations for Binance in several jurisdictions, including Bahrain, Dubai and New Zealand.

“The digital assets industry is in a transformational time as it experiences rapid mainstream adoption and evolves to be a mature, regulated sector. I am excited to lead the accomplished legal team at Binance during such a pivotal time,” says Hughes.

“Together with regulators, Binance has the responsibility as an industry leader to ensure consumers are protected, while leaving space for the technology to keep growing and innovating. Our team will continue to engage and collaborate closely with regulators around the globe to achieve this vision.”

According to Binance, Hughes is an accomplished legal professional with 15 years of experience in private practice and in-house roles.

Prior to joining Binance, she spent more than 10 years at US law firms, including Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Affiliates, where she focused on litigation and contentious matters.

Hughes graduated from the University of Cambridge with First Class Honours.