The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s (CFTC) multi-billion dollar fines against Binance crypto exchange were “heightened” due to the regulator’s previous public warnings that crypto firms must comply, said Commissioner Kristin J. Johnson during a Financial Times event on Tuesday.

Johnson clarified the enforcement action taken by the agency against the largest crypto exchange in the world because “it simply failed to comply with regulations.”

Binance was in the news last month after paying one of largest corporate fines ever. The firm agreed <a href="https://www.coindesk.com/policy/2023/11/22/binances-busy-day-krakens-second-sec-fight/#:~:text=Binance%20will%20pay%20%241.35%20billion,%241.5%20million%20to%20the%20agency." The firm agreed to pay $4.3 billion in fines and penalties for money laundering, among other things.

Binance has agreed to pay $1.35bn in civil penalties, and $1.35bn in disgorgement, to the CFTC as part of a settlement . The suit alleged that Binance operated a crypto derivatives trading platforms in the U.S. without obtaining CFTC licensing, and attempted to hide this from regulators. Binance founder Changpeng “CZ Zhao” stepped down and paid a fine of $150 million to the agency as part the deal.

There’s a widespread assumption that enforcement action in the crypto- or digital asset ecosystem is a sign of bad actors or bad behavior. Johnson acknowledged that there was plenty of evidence supporting this assumption, but he added that in Binance’s situation, “the matter, and the resolution to the litigation, did not involve allegations of fraud or other misconduct.”

She added that the action taken by the agency against Binance and three DeFi platforms in September was not about breaking rules, but rather, it was about violating regulations.

She did say, however, that the agency uses a “deep, careful, and thorough” method before deciding on civil penalties, and that Binance‚Äôs penalties were “heightened,” mainly because the agency had “on record, and publicly stated, if you are operating in U.S. market and inviting U.S. clients to participate, then you must comply.”

The industry has been critical of U.S. regulators who have taken tough actions against firms that they feel are not compliant with country’s regulations without giving any clarification on how to comply.

Johnson stated that “we are thrilled for market participants who operate on our market. But it is critical that they comply with regulations if they are operating in our market.”

Nikhilesh De.