Changpeng Zhao, the CEO of Binance, filed a defamation lawsuit against Modern Media CL., the publisher of Bloomberg Businessweek in Hong Kong, on Monday. The lawsuit stemmed from a title of a translated article in Chinese that said Zhao was the head of a “ponzi scheme.”
The suit stems from Bloomberg Businessweek’s June 23 profile of Zhao: “Can Crypto’s Richest Man Stand the Cold?” But in Hong Kong, Businessweek’s local publisher Modern Media CL ran a different headline designed – according to Zhao’s representative – to spur “hatred, contempt and ridicule” for the world’s richest crypto billionaire: “Zhao Changpeng’s Ponzi Scheme.”
Zhao wanted a retraction, a restraining order to prevent the defendants from disseminating the portrayal further, and the removal of the edition from newsstands; Modern Media has already partially complied with Zhao’s demands. With regard to “defamatory charges” in the profile article, he separately filed a move for discovery against Bloomberg L.P. and Bloomberg Inc. in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Zhao objected to the article’s description of Binance as “sketchy” and an unnamed trader’s description of Binance as a “huge shitcoin casino.”
According to the motion, these assertions “were evidently designed to mislead readers into assuming that Zhao was breaking the law”.
The two legal actions are part of Zhao’s tenacious image-protection plan for Binance
In 2020, Binance filed a lawsuit against Forbes for making allegedly defamatory remarks, but it was later dismissed. (It made a strategic investment in Forbes in the future, which was connected to a failed SPAC acquisition.) Zhao filed a defamation lawsuit against the venture capital firm Sequoia in 2019.
The U.S. court documents highlight how carefully Binance guards its reputation. It describes the legal wrangling that led Modern Media to remove the headline on the Ponzi scheme and the printed copy from circulation earlier this month. However, according to the petition, “a number of online businesses” were still selling the print edition, which prompted Zhao to file a lawsuit.
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