US Justice Department, Regulators Contacted Binance on FTX Talks: Source

U.S. authorities including the Department of Justice have contacted crypto exchange Binance for information about its recent interactions with FTX in the two companies’ talks about a potential rescue, according to a person briefed on the situation.

Binance has heard from U.S. financial regulators, the person said, in addition to regulators in Europe, requesting insight into what Binance executives learned this week about FTX’s internal workings.

A spokesman for Binance declined to comment on the discussions. A Washington-based FTX official didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Binance, the world's biggest global crypto platform by volume, had been weighing an emergency acquisition of FTX to save the firm from its liquidity crunch, which measured in the billions of dollars, a person familiar with the talks said.

But Binance’s due-diligence crew quickly discovered murky conflicts with FTX’s relationship with Alameda Research, the trading company also founded by FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, the person said. And FTX customer funds seemed to have been used for business purposes, according to the person.

The company’s collapse drew concern from industry and government alike.

“It is crucial that our financial watchdogs look into what led to FTX’s collapse, so we can fully understand the misconduct and abuses that took place,” Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said in a statement on Thursday.

Also this week, FTX US’ top lawyer has instructed employees to preserve work-related documents, another sign of potential legal exposure for Bankman-Fried’s crypto empire. On Wednesday, FTX US General Counsel Ryne Miller instructed staff to retain emails, messages, notes and documents stemming from their work at FTX, FTX US, Alameda and affiliated companies, sources told CoinDesk.