Binance Founder’s Plea to Travel Denied by Judge Despite $4.5 Billion Equity Offer as Security

Judge cites “enormous wealth” and flight risk concerns in rejecting CZ Zhao’s request to travel to UAE for family emergency

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In a recent court filing, it has been revealed that a federal judge rejected a plea by Binance founder Changpeng “CZ” Zhao to travel to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for a family emergency, despite Zhao offering to use his Binance equity valued at $4.5 billion as security for his return to the United States. The request was made to attend the “hospitalization and surgery” of an unnamed person in Zhao’s life.

Zhao had pleaded guilty in November in a Seattle federal court to failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program at Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange. Binance, as a company, agreed to pay $4.3 billion in penalties as part of the case. Although Zhao stepped down as CEO following his plea, he remains free in the U.S. on a $175 million release bond.

In a letter dated December 22, Zhao’s lawyers informed Judge Richard Jones about his desire to travel to Abu Dhabi for a period of one to four weeks starting January 4. The purpose of the trip was to be present for the hospitalization, surgery, and recovery of an individual, the identity of whom has been redacted in the court documents.

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However, the judge denied Zhao’s request despite the cryptocurrency mogul offering his substantial Binance equity as security for his return. The court records reveal that the equity was valued at $4.5 billion based on Binance’s last fundraising round two years ago.

This isn’t the first time Zhao sought permission to travel to the UAE. In December, Judge Jones had already rejected a similar request, citing concerns about Zhao’s “enormous wealth” and lack of ties to the United States, making him a potential flight risk. The judge noted that Zhao’s family resides in the UAE, and he seems to have “favored status” in the country.

The court’s decision to deny Zhao’s travel request underscores the judiciary’s cautious approach, considering the significant financial resources at his disposal and the potential risk of flight. Zhao is scheduled to be sentenced on February 23, and this latest development adds another layer of complexity to the legal proceedings surrounding one of the cryptocurrency industry’s key figures.