US Judge Accepts Guilty Plea of Binance’s Ex-CEO

by Arnab Shome
  • Changpeng Zhao pled guilty to one count of Bank Secrecy Act violation last month.
  • He is awaiting sentencing, which is scheduled for February 2024.
Changpeng Zhao
Changpeng Zhao (Source: PC Tech Mag)
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A US federal judge has accepted the guilty plea of former Binance’s CEO, Changpeng Zhao, for one count of anti-money laundering violations under the Bank Secrecy Act. However, the judge has not decided whether Zhao could return to his UAE residence before the February sentencing.

Zhao Pled Guilty

Last month, Zhao pled guilty to the anti-money laundering charges in the US as his exchange settled with the federal prosecutors, paying $4.3 billion. As a part of the deal, Binance agreed to exit the US completely, and Zhao stepped down as the CEO. Richard Teng, a former director at Binance, took over as the CEO.

Under the plea deal, Zhao faces a potential prison sentence of 18 months, with his sentencing scheduled for February 2024. Without the plea deal, the maximum prison time for money laundering in the US can be up to 20 years.

Zhao was promptly granted bail with a $175-million bond agreement. He placed $15 million in a trust account and secured additional funds through guarantors. According to the initial agreement, he was permitted to travel to the UAE but needed to return to the US two weeks before his trial.

The federal prosecutors, however, raised flight risk concerns over Zhao’s UAE visit and highlighted that the US has no extradition treaty with the UAE. Further, Zhao’s assets are kept outside the jurisdictions of the US, so it would be difficult to recover the amount of bail if Zhao failed to return for the sentencing.

Although the judge temporarily issued a stay order on Zhao from leaving the US, the final ruling is pending.

US Crackdown on Crypto Violations

Apart from Zhao, FTX’s Founder and former CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried, was convicted in the US for seven criminal charges by a New Jersey jury in a high-profile trial. His sentencing is also pending until next year, but he will stay behind bars forthwith.

In addition to the settlement with the federal prosecutors, Binance additionally paid an additional $2.85 billion to the US commodities regulator to settle a series of civil charges brought against the exchange and its former CEO. Meanwhile, the crypto exchange continues to battle the US securities market regulator in court, defending itself against 13 charges, including allegations of comingling the customers and the company’s funds.

Despite the setback in the US, Binance continues to be the leading global venue for cryptocurrency trading, handling about 19.5 billion in spot trading and over $82.7 billion in derivatives trading in the past 24 hours, according to Coinmarketcap.com, a platform owned by Binance.

A US federal judge has accepted the guilty plea of former Binance’s CEO, Changpeng Zhao, for one count of anti-money laundering violations under the Bank Secrecy Act. However, the judge has not decided whether Zhao could return to his UAE residence before the February sentencing.

Zhao Pled Guilty

Last month, Zhao pled guilty to the anti-money laundering charges in the US as his exchange settled with the federal prosecutors, paying $4.3 billion. As a part of the deal, Binance agreed to exit the US completely, and Zhao stepped down as the CEO. Richard Teng, a former director at Binance, took over as the CEO.

Under the plea deal, Zhao faces a potential prison sentence of 18 months, with his sentencing scheduled for February 2024. Without the plea deal, the maximum prison time for money laundering in the US can be up to 20 years.

Zhao was promptly granted bail with a $175-million bond agreement. He placed $15 million in a trust account and secured additional funds through guarantors. According to the initial agreement, he was permitted to travel to the UAE but needed to return to the US two weeks before his trial.

The federal prosecutors, however, raised flight risk concerns over Zhao’s UAE visit and highlighted that the US has no extradition treaty with the UAE. Further, Zhao’s assets are kept outside the jurisdictions of the US, so it would be difficult to recover the amount of bail if Zhao failed to return for the sentencing.

Although the judge temporarily issued a stay order on Zhao from leaving the US, the final ruling is pending.

US Crackdown on Crypto Violations

Apart from Zhao, FTX’s Founder and former CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried, was convicted in the US for seven criminal charges by a New Jersey jury in a high-profile trial. His sentencing is also pending until next year, but he will stay behind bars forthwith.

In addition to the settlement with the federal prosecutors, Binance additionally paid an additional $2.85 billion to the US commodities regulator to settle a series of civil charges brought against the exchange and its former CEO. Meanwhile, the crypto exchange continues to battle the US securities market regulator in court, defending itself against 13 charges, including allegations of comingling the customers and the company’s funds.

Despite the setback in the US, Binance continues to be the leading global venue for cryptocurrency trading, handling about 19.5 billion in spot trading and over $82.7 billion in derivatives trading in the past 24 hours, according to Coinmarketcap.com, a platform owned by Binance.

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