Robin Zhu Jiawei, chief operating officer at Huobi, one of the world’s largest crypto exchanges, left the company in April, according to a local report published on Thursday that cited an announcement by Huobi founder Li Lin.

Li said the announcement’s six-month delay was meant to prevent disruptions to the team and company. Zhu joined Huobi in 2015. He was an assistant to the CEO before taking on the role of COO. Before joining Huobi, Zhu worked for Oracle and French consulting and IT services provider CapGemini.

Zhu left Huobi ahead of the latest, tightened restrictions on digital asset transactions in China. Exchanges founded by individuals of Chinese origin have been cutting ties with customers in China, as the country’s government has instituted a blanket ban that criminalizes crypto trading and mining activities. Specifically, regulators called out overseas trading platforms that were serving Chinese users.

Two days after the ban was announced in late September, Huobi announced that it had terminated account registration processes for new users in China. It said the firm will “gradually retire” existing mainland China user accounts by December 31 to ensure the safety of users’ assets.

In November 2020, Chinese media reported that Zhu was arrested by police, one month after OKEx founder Xu Mingxing was taken into police custody. At the time, Huobi and OKEx denied the reports. Nonetheless, USD 350 million in withdrawals took place on Huobi, while OKEx froze withdrawals after users fled the exchange.

In a message sent to Huobi’s users over WeChat, Li suggested that even if they could not access Huobi, exchanges like Binance and OKEx are options for them to migrate to.

In 2017, Huobi temporarily froze bitcoin withdrawals and suspended its operations in mainland China after the government banned conversions between fiat and crypto. Banks and financial institutions were warned against offering services related to crypto.

Huobi was formed in China. It is now nominally based in Seychelles and has offices in the United States, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Japan.

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