Binance filed a lawsuit in the state of New Jersey against Forbes Media and two of its journalists, Michael del Castillo and Jason Brett., claiming that an article published under the title “Leaked ‘Tai Chi’ Document Reveals Binance’s Elaborate Plan to Evade Bitcoin Regulators Was Defamatory”. Binance demands compensatory and punitive damages.
The article, which appeared on the Forbes website on October 29, 2020, reported that the ‘Tai Chi’ document contained details of a scheme designed to “intentionally mislead regulators” in the United States. According to Forbes, the document outlined a plan to funnel revenue from a US entity to Binance while isolating the company from US law enforcement.
In the complaint, filed on November 18, 2020 in the United States District Court of New Jersey, Binance states that “The story contains numerous false, misleading and defamatory statements about Binance”. The complaint goes on to state that the company did not create the Tai Chi document and never implemented the scheme described in it. Binance also claims that Harry Zhou, apparently the author of the document, never worked for the company.
Binance’s complaint notes that the company sent the defendants a letter demanding a removal, retraction and apology. The Article remains in place, and an in-text editor’s note says that “Chief Compliance Officer Lim had previously emailed Forbes confirming that Zhou had been an employee of Binance”. In its complaint, Binance includes this claim in a list of ‘false, misleading and defamatory statements’.
The barrier to successful defamation lawsuits against journalists and media organizations is high. Plaintiffs generally have to prove that the defendant acted with “reckless disregard for the truth” or actual malice (knowing that the statements made were false). Another element of a successful defamation lawsuit is often ‘pecuniary damage’, and Binance alleges in the complaint that it has suffered property damage “believed to be in the millions of dollars” as a result of the publication of the article, which it hopes to prove at trial.
Cointelegraph has reached out to Binance, Forbes Media, and Michael del Castillo for comment.