In a filing to the federal court in Seattle on December 6 (US time), former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao pleads guilty to felony charges related to his failure to prevent money laundering on the crypto exchange platform. Zhao admitted to violations of the Bank Secrecy Act and apparent violations of sanctions programs, including its failure to implement reporting programs for suspicious transactions. Judge Richard Jones of Seattle District Court accepted Zhao’s guilty plea.
On November 22, 2023, Binance reached a settlement to end investigations by the US Department of Justice and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) into the platform. The exchange agreed to pay a fine of up to $4.3 billion.
Meanwhile, Changpeng Zhao, who led Binance since its establishment in 2017, was forced to resign on charges of failing to prevent money laundering on the platform. He agreed to pay a $50 million fine and was prohibited from holding a leadership position at Binance for three years.
For the charge of violating anti-money laundering regulations, Changpeng Zhao could face 18 months to several decades in prison. However, the former Binance CEO can file an appeal if the sentence exceeds 18 months. He also agreed to a $175 million bond as part of the bail agreement, hoping to reunite with his family in the UAE while awaiting the sentencing on February 23, 2024.
However, US prosecutors have recommended to the court not to allow CZ to leave the US, expressing concerns about the risk of him fleeing and the inability to extradite him to face charges because most of his assets are beyond the control of US officials and US has no extradition treaty with the UAE.
Seattle District Court has not made any new decisions regarding whether to allow Changpeng Zhao to travel to the UAE, so he remains in custody in the US.
Since resigning as CEO, Changpeng Zhao has changed his Twitter X name to separate his relationship with the exchange, but still regularly updates and interacts with the community. On December 3, he shared the 10th anniversary of selling his house to ape into Bitcoin.