Judge Accepts Guilty Plea from Binance’s Former CEO Changpeng Zhao

Judge Accepts Guilty Plea from Binance’s Former CEO Changpeng Zhao

by December 7, 2023

Seattle’s U.S. District Court Judge Richard Jones has accepted a guilty plea for money laundering from crypto exchange Binance’s former CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ).

The sentencing for CZ is scheduled for 23 February 2024 where he could face up to 18 months in prison. He has been released on a US$175 million bond which could have allowed him to return to the UAE where he resides.

However, federal prosecutors tried to stop this from happening due to concerns that he may be a flight risk since UAE has no extradition treaty. Multiple news outlets reported that the court had  prohibited him from leaving the U.S. before his sentencing but the judge has yet to make the final decision on that.

CZ had pleaded guilty to criminal charges for anti-money laundering and violations of U.S. sanctions which led to a historic settlement where Binance agreed to pay US$3.4 billion to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and US$968 million to the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

He had agreed to pay US$50 million and stepped down as CEO to be succeeded by Richard Teng. CZ also resigned from his role as Chairman of the Board of Directors at Binance.US.

CZ retained an economic interest in the company but will no longer participate in its governance, having transferred his voting rights through a proxy arrangement.

He took to social media platform X to say that he would be taking a break and potentially venturing into passive investing in areas such as blockchain, Web 3.0, DeFi, AI, and biotech.

He also indicated interest in privately mentoring upcoming entrepreneurs. CZ did not mention about potentially serving jail time though.