Binance, the world's biggest cryptocurrency exchange, is in the midst of a legal storm, and the upheaval has already claimed its chief executive, Changpeng Zhao.
Mr Zhao on Tuesday pleaded guilty to criminal charges and resigned from his position as part of a $4.3 billion settlement with the US Department of Justice, as federal prosecutors revealed sweeping allegations, including breaking US anti-money laundering laws, unlawful money transmitting and sanctions breaches.
Richard Teng, the company's former global head of regional markets, has taken his place. Mr Teng has ample experience in regulatory roles and capital markets.
“Richard is a highly qualified leader and, with over three decades of financial services and regulatory experience, he will navigate the company through its next period of growth,” a statement from Binance on Wednesday said.
Mr Teng, who was born in Singapore, holds a master's degree in applied finance from the University of Western Australia and a degree in accountancy from Nanyang Technological University Singapore.
Before Binance, Mr Teng served as chief executive of Abu Dhabi Global Market Financial Services Regulatory Authority. He joined the ADGM in 2015 and helped shape frameworks for crypto and blockchain adoption in the UAE.
Before that, he was the chief regulatory officer of the Singapore Exchange, where he worked closely with the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the city-state's central bank and financial regulator, according to his LinkedIn profile.
Mr Teng played a top role in the creation of policies and frameworks in the areas of listing, trading and clearing, as well as formulating regulatory solutions for new products and services.
He held several senior roles at the SGX, including senior vice president, head of issuer regulation and chief of staff for risk management and regulation, and head of regulation.
He joined Binance in August 2021 as the chief executive of the exchange's Singapore unit, where he began his steady ascent in the company's hierarchy.
In December of that year, he became Binance's regional head of the Middle East and North Africa. The Europe and Asia markets were added to his portfolio in November 2022 and April 2023 before he became the boss of the regional market.
Mr Teng said that his strategy for navigating Binance is based on reassuring users that they can remain confident in the “financial strength, security and safety of the company”, collaborate with regulators and work with partners to drive growth and adoption of Web3.
He is also currently an international council member at the Global FinTech Institute and an advisory board member at Blockchain Association Singapore. He sat on the board of Abu Dhabi-based Lulu Financial Group from 2021 to 2022.
Analysts say that while the case against Binance is another big blow to the highly volatile crypto industry, it is expected to put the spotlight on regulation, which is one of Mr Teng's strong suits.
“Greater regulatory scrutiny must be championed as digital currencies are set to play an ever-greater role. Cryptocurrencies must come into the regulatory tent and be held to the same standards as the rest of the financial system,” said Nigel Green, chief executive of financial advisory firm deVere Group.
“They are here to stay, and the market is only set to grow. There can be no doubt that regulation of the crypto ecosystem is required and, I believe, it should be a priority.”