Disclaimer: This article has been updated following clarification from Binance that it was not affiliated with the firm.
On June 19, a post on the r/buttcoin subreddit showed a so-called “utility closet” that a firm called Binance Ltd uses as a registered office address in the U.K.
However, a spokesperson for the major cryptocurrency exchange told Cointelegraph that the registered organization is not a Binance entity.
The address in question is located in the town of Mildenhall in Suffolk County, England. Google Maps shows the site is a small, nondescript garage building on the outer edge of the town about an hour and a half’s drive from Britain’s capital London.
Companies House — the government’s company’s registrar — shows Binance Ltd shares the address with 2,403 active companies in total.
The address is actually the site of a company called OfficeServ, a virtual registered address service provider that aims to give a “believable business location,” as per its website.
Related: Binance cancels registration for inactive business in the UK
Companies House shows Binance Ltd is registered to provide ”other service activities not elsewhere classified.”
While the details around the entity “Binance Ltd” are still unclear, the Financial Conduct Authority in the United Kingdom has previously warned the public about the existence of crypto “clone” firms. Clone firms are a type of scam in which the scammers use information from legitimate firms in an attempt to convince targets that they are genuine.
There are currently several entities with “Binance” in their name across various addresses around Britain.
Tech firms shell games
The use of virtual “shell” addresses by technology companies around the world and in the United States has been happening for years. These are used for a host of reasons — from providing privacy, obscuring patent filings or registering a business in a corporate tax haven.
Most notable is the Corporation Trust Company, the world’s largest registered agent service firm, used by thousands of firms, including well-known companies such as Google, Walmart, Coca-Cola and Apple. It operates out of a similarly nondescript brick building in Delaware.
This utterly nondescript building in Wilmington, Delaware is (probably) the most famous address in corporate law.
1209 North Orange Street.
It houses the Corporation Trust Center, the registered agent address of about three hundred thousand businesses. Including some giants. pic.twitter.com/HhdaUfKXCU
— Lucius Winslow (@Lucius_Winslow) November 15, 2020
The firm was used by Apple last November in an attempt to obscure the patent fillings for its recently announced Vision Pro headset and related operating system.
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Another firm, Wyoming Corporate Services, was described in a 2011 Reuters exposé as a “brick house” in a “sleepy city” and home to 2,000 registered companies at the time.
Additional reporting by Blanche Gatt.