The logo of cryptocurrency exchange Binance displayed on a smartphone with stock market percentages in the background.
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Binance, the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange, on Monday was slapped with a 3.3 million euro ($3.4 million) fine from the Dutch central bank for operating in the Netherlands without registration.
The penalty came after an August 2021 warning from De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) last year that Binance had offered crypto services in the country without authorization.
The company was dealt a category 3 fine — the most stringent of DNB's three levels of enforcement. The charge came in at the upper limit of the 2 million euros to 4 million euros maximum the bank can impose "due to the gravity and degree of culpability of the non-compliance," DNB said in a statement.
The breach took place over a "prolonged period," the central bank said, spanning from May 21, 2020, until at least Dec. 1, 2021. "This is why DNB considers the non-compliance to be very grave," the regulator said.
DNB said it also took into account Binance's size and "very substantial customer base in the Netherlands." The company is the biggest crypto exchange globally, with daily spot trading volumes of $15.5 billion, according to CoinGecko data.
Binance filed an appeal against the fine on June 2, DNB said.
A Binance spokesperson said the company is hoping to put the squabble behind it as it pursues its Dutch license.
"Today's decision marks a long-awaited pivot in our ongoing collaboration with the Dutch Central Bank," the spokesperson said via email.
"While we do not share the same view on every aspect of the decision, we deeply respect the authority and professionalism of Dutch regulators to enforce regulations as they see fit."
The development goes against Binance's recent shift in tone around making peace with global regulators. Binance previously operated largely outside the parameters of the law, with its CEO Changpeng Zhao often boasting of having no official global headquarters.
It has since tried to become a friend rather than foe to regulators — particularly in Europe, where it has secured licenses in France, Italy and Spain.
The Dutch fine was moderated 5% lower because Binance applied for registration and was "relatively transparent" about its operations during the process, DNB said. The central bank says it is still reviewing Binance's application.