Skip to main content

Binance CEO takes heat at Abu Dhabi event after FTX fall 

Changpeng Zhao maintained that crypto is the future, despite cryptocurrency exchange FTX filing for bankruptcy last week.
Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao sits on the main stage at Abu Dhabi Finance Week (ADFW) in an interview with Mike Novogratz, the CEO of Galaxy Digital Holdings.

ABU DHABI — Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao stood in support of crypto, reassuring a packed hall on Wednesday at Abu Dhabi Finance Week (ADFW) that crypto is the future. 

Yet not everyone attending the second day of the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) event was buying it. A speaker at the event tweeted about his distrust of Zhao shortly after. 

What happened: Bahamas-based cryptocurrency exchange FTX filed for bankruptcy last week, and Binance’s role in it has led to big reactions. 

Nouriel Roubini, the chief economist at Atlas Capital, went on the event's main stage after Zhao and berated the CEO on stage in addition to tweeting about it. 

"Me calling for @cz_binance to be kicked out of the UAE while I was live on stage today," wrote Roubini

"I can't believe @cz_binance has a license to operate in the UAE," he told CNBC correspondent Dan Murphy while on stage. 

There was opposition to the views of the professor emeritus of economics at New York University, with Binance receiving support from people in the audience and globally for their pioneering work and process. 

"No one in the crypto space is doing even 1/4 of what @cz_binance and @binance is doing for the crypto industry. Very transparent in all their dealings and putting in so much $ for security & adoption of crypto," wrote Twitter user Danladi Dimah Tia from Ghana. 

What it means: There is increasing skepticism about the reliability of cryptocurrencies and the exchanges that manage them amid the fluctuating market that has caused huge losses among investors and led to a crypto winter. 

Why it matters: Binance is the largest infrastructure provider in the global $1 trillion cryptocurrency industry, reaching more than 120 million users

The overall cryptocurrency market has fallen by about two-thirds from its peak to $1.07 trillion

Before FTX’s collapse, Zhao sparked concerns among investors on Nov. 6 when he said in a tweet that Binance would sell its holdings of FTT, a token of the now-bankrupt FTX Exchange.

On Monday, Zhao announced Binance had previously held a $580 million value of FTT, of which "we only sold quite a small portion — we still hold a large bag."

Binance is currently under investigation by the US Justice Department for possible violations of money laundering rules, Reuters reported last week. 

Binance was granted a license to operate in Dubai in March of this year, which Zhao said was an ideal place to operate. 

“It’s not a saturated market; we don’t need to compete with the 1% of today,” he said about the United Arab Emirates and the region.  

He continued to discuss his relationship with Abu Dhabi and further interest in the Gulf in the discussion with CEO of financial services company Galaxy Digital Holdings Mike Novogratz.

The Binance CEO announced that there is one market maker on his platform that he's invested in, but that it's for liquidity and registered in Bahrain.

Know more: Abu Dhabi’s international business center announced on Tuesday the introduction of blockchain technology to its legal system

The Abu Dhabi Global Market Courts said it will begin securing commercial judgments via blockchain technology. 

The judgments will be available immediately via the courts’ digital system, meaning entities will no longer need to wait for a certified copy from a judge, according to a press release.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in