Binance Founder Changpeng Zhao Ordered to Stay in U.S. Pending Sentencing

Federal Judge Restricts Binance Founder Zhao’s Travel as Part of Ongoing Legal Proceedings After Guilty Plea in Cryptocurrency Exchange Case

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Zhao, the founder of Binance, has been ordered by a federal judge to remain in the United States temporarily as part of the legal proceedings following his guilty plea last week in connection to criminal charges related to the cryptocurrency exchange. Despite being released on a $175 million bond, Zhao is now subject to travel restrictions until his sentencing hearing scheduled for February 23, 2023.

The prosecutors had requested that Zhao be prevented from leaving the country before sentencing, citing concerns about flight risk. While Zhao’s lawyers argued for his ability to travel, emphasizing that he had voluntarily flown to the U.S. for his guilty plea, the judge ruled in favor of the government’s motion. Zhao, who resides in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), does not have an extradition treaty between the UAE and the U.S.

The government, recognizing the unique circumstances, noted in a filing that Zhao’s case was an exception due to factors such as his billionaire status, guilty plea, and the absence of an extradition agreement with the UAE. The prosecutors asserted that the restriction on Zhao’s return to the UAE was necessary to manage the flight risk.

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As part of the plea arrangement, Zhao agreed to step down as CEO of Binance and settle with the Department of Justice for $4.3 billion. This resolution marked the end of a multiyear investigation into Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange. The charges against Zhao and others included violations of the Bank Secrecy Act and deliberate efforts to profit from the U.S. market without implementing required controls, leading to a failure in anti-money laundering measures.

While Binance will continue its operations, it will be required to adhere to new compliance measures to align with U.S. anti-money laundering standards. Additionally, an independent compliance monitor will be appointed to oversee Binance’s adherence to the specified ground rules. The legal developments surrounding Binance and Changpeng Zhao continue to draw attention in the cryptocurrency and financial sectors.