Jo Johnson resigns from Binance advisory role

The former Tory MP and universities minister stepped back as scrutiny over the cryptocurrency exchange grows

Boris Johnson’s younger brother, Jo, has resigned from a role advising Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, which hopes to launch in the UK.

Lord Johnson of Marylebone took the role on the UK advisory board of Bfinity, a payments business founded by Binance, in September, the Telegraph reported.

Johnson sat on the board alongside Lord Vaizey, the former Conservative culture minister, who is also a member of Binance’s global advisory board.

The former Tory MP and universities minister resigned as scrutiny over Binance’s finances grows. The founder, Changpeng Zhao, insisted it was “business as usual” last week despite investors pulling out $6bn of funds. It later emerged auditor Mazars has stopped working with it.

Johnson’s resignation comes amid a crisis in the cryptocurrency industry after the collapse last month of FTX, one of Binance’s rivals, and the arrest of FTX’s founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, who has been charged in the US over alleged fraud, money laundering and conspiracy.

Johnson and Vaizey’s involvement with Binance underscores the company’s efforts to gain traction with politicians and regulators in Britain.

Last year, the Financial Conduct Authority blocked the company from launching a UK division amid concerns over its transparency.

Earlier this month, Johnson was named chairman of digital education platform FutureLearn as it was acquired by Dutch group Global University Systems.

Johnson told the Guardian: “I’ve taken on a new role as chairman of FutureLearn, the digital learning platform, and am scaling back other activities to focus on that.”

A Binance spokesperson said Johnson “will be focusing on his new role within the digital learning platform, and is looking to scale back other activities”.

Johnson sent shock waves through the Conservative party in 2019 when he announced he was quitting the cabinet, citing an “unresolvable tension” between his family loyalty and the national interest. His older brother and then prime minister handed him a seat in the Lords the following year.

Bifnity is headquartered in Lithuania and was started by Binance in March. It provides currency services, and converts traditional currencies into digital coins.

In a memo to staff last week, Zhao admitted that the next several months would be “bumpy” but reassured them: “We will get past this challenging period – and we’ll be stronger for having been through.”


Alex Lawson

The GuardianTramp

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