BingX exchange openly supports Iranian users, defying sanctions


The BingX crypto exchange is allowing sanctioned Iranian users to evade restrictions.

The exchange openly displays an Iranian version of its website, and its officials have made statements in Persian in the exchange’s official Telegram group.

According to a translation of one of the statements, “The Bing X exchange has no problem with Iranian users, and it is even possible to authenticate with a national card.”

The exchange also allows Iranian rial to Tether (USDT) swaps in its interface, which are prohibited under United States Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) rules.

Statement by BingX admin. Source: BingX official Telegram channel.

Iran has been under a variety of sanctions since 1979. The U.S. and the United Nations have accused the exchange of a wide variety of violations of international law, including seizing property belonging to U.S. companies, funding terrorism and enriching uranium to make nuclear weapons. Iran has denied these claims. 

The sanctions generally prevent Iranian residents from using centralized cryptocurrency exchanges, and these exchanges risk being blocked from U.S. and global markets if they do business with Iranians. 

According to OFAC, Foreign Financial Institutions (FFIs) risk “correspondent and payable-through account sanctions and blocking sanctions” if they knowingly conduct or facilitate transactions involving the purchase or sale of Iranian rials.

However, it appears that on the BingX exchange, the Iranian rial — an OFAC-sanctioned currency — is directly swappable for other crypto assets.

BingX supporting transactions in the Iranian rial. Source: BingX

BingX facilitates over $974 million in trading volume per day, according to CoinMarketCap data. This makes it one of the top 20 crypto exchanges in the world.

Per data from its official website, the exchange is a registered financial services company in the Republic of Lithuania, giving it a license to do business in the European Union. It is also licensed in Australia as a digital currency exchange and operates from Singapore. 

Like all global financial institutions, entities in Australia and Lithuania must comply with the U.S. OFAC sanctions and any sanctions imposed on Iran by their home countries or the European Union. 

BingXPersian, where services are offered to Iranian residents, is listed as an official channel of the BingX exchange. Source: BingX

Yet, despite such requirements, the exchange publicly solicits Iran-based users on its social channels and official website. Before November 2021, the exchange was known as Bingbon. 

BingX was founded by Josh Lu in 2018 and claims to serve over 10 million users. The nationality of its current founder is unknown

Statement by BingX customer support representative J. Jalali. Source: BingX official Telegram channel

According to another BingX representative, “Iran is in the list of countries with restrictions.” However, “this does not mean a ban on providing services.” In addition, the exchange is also advertising its Iranian rial services and states, “Did you know that you can buy and sell Tether with Rials on Bing X?”

BingX touts the buying and selling of sanctioned Iranian rial and toman (1 toman = 10 rial) via peer-to-peer transactions. Source: BingX on Telegram

BingX is not the only licensed cryptocurrency exchange that has been caught circumventing sanctions for Iranian users. 

In July 2022, Reuters reported that the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, Binance, was serving Iranian citizens. At the time, Binance denied the claim, stating that it “strictly” adheres to sanctions requirements. 

In November 2023, the exchange agreed to a $4.5 billion plea deal with the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Treasury, admitting that it failed to maintain an effective policy against money laundering. Its former CEO, Changpeng Zhao, also pled guilty to Bank Secrecy Act violations.

The BingX official website onboarding Iranian residents. Source: BingX

In May 2023, the crypto exchange Poloniex also paid a $7.6 million settlement to the OFAC for failing to retroactively screen users from Crimea, Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria who had registered before the exchange implemented Know Your Customer controls.

Related: US Treasury sanctions crypto mixer Sinbad, alleging North Korea ties