(Bloomberg) -- Binance Holdings Ltd. received its long-sought full crypto license in Dubai after co-founder Changpeng “CZ” Zhao agreed to give up voting control in the local entity, according to people with knowledge of the matter. 

The world’s biggest digital-asset exchange got a Virtual Asset Service Provider permit in the emirate, Chief Executive Officer Richard Teng confirmed in a Bloomberg Television interview on Thursday. 

The license is a much-needed win for Binance, which suffered a string of regulatory hits over the past two years that culminated in its agreement to pay $4.3 billion in US penalties in November. Zhao was forced to resign as chief executive officer as part of that deal and is expected to be sentenced this month after pleading guilty to anti-money laundering and sanctions charges. 

Binance FZE, the local unit in Dubai, has held so-called Operational MVP licenses for broker-dealer and exchange services since mid-2023, the Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority’s register shows. Operational MVP is an interim stage before getting a full VASP license. 

One of the final steps VARA required before granting a VASP license was Zhao ceding voting control of the Dubai entity, called Binance FZE, the people said, asking not to be named discussing private deliberations. Officials wanted to ensure that Dubai didn’t diverge from the agreement Binance reached with US authorities, under which Zhao was forced to relinquish his CEO position, they said. 

After the parties resolved the issue of Zhao’s voting control, Binance and VARA completed a comprehensive review of the products the exchange will offer in Dubai, the people said. 

A Binance spokesperson and a representative for Zhao didn’t respond to questions about the negotiations with VARA. A spokesperson for the regulator declined to comment.

The billionaire remains the ultimate beneficial owner of Binance FZE’s Abu Dhabi-based parent company, the people said.

As Binance awaited its full license, smaller competitors like OKX and Crypto.com beat it to the coveted VASP status, which allows them to cater to a broader array of customers in the emirate. An Operational MVP allows Binance to serve institutional and qualified investors, while a VASP license opens the door to retail cryptocurrency trading as well. 

Teng, who took over as CEO when Zhao stepped down, has pledged to improve compliance and relations with regulators around the world. In the past year, countries from India to Belgium have taken steps to stop Binance from operating locally without the requisite approvals. 

Teng has said the company, which doesn’t have a formal headquarters, is in discussions with several jurisdictions that could serve as a global base, without giving details. 

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