Former Binance CEO CZ’s Guilty Plea Accepted By US Court, Still No Approval for UAE Trip

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A federal judge has approved Binance founder Changpeng Zhao’s guilty plea for money laundering. However, the judge has yet to determine whether CZ can depart from the United States before his scheduled sentencing date in February.

Accepts Guilt for Bank Secrecy Act Violations

Changpeng Zhao, popularly known as CZ, has seen his guilty plea accepted by a US court for failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering (AML) program during his tenure as CEO of Binance.

The Seattle District Court, led by Judge Richard Jones, also approved CZ’s guilty plea for violating one count of the Bank Secrecy Act in a filing on December 6.

This acceptance was stated in its opening statements.

“This Court, having considered the Report and Recommendation of the United States Magistrate Judge, to which there has been no timely objection, and subject to consideration of the Plea Agreement pursuant to Fed. R. Crim. P. 11, hereby accepts the plea of guilty of the defendant to the charge contained in Count 1 of the Information, and the defendant is adjudged guilty of such offense.”

“All parties shall appear before this Court for sentencing as directed,” Judge Jones added.

The scrutiny on CZ and Binance began in 2020, initiated by the US Department of Justice (DoJ).

After a two-year investigation involving the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and two other government agencies, CZ and the crypto trading platform were found guilty of money laundering and Bank Secrecy Act violations.

The crypto exchange was fined $4.3 billion, and CZ was asked to step down as part of the settlement arrangements.

Zhao is currently out on a $175 million bail bond and could face up to 18 months in prison once his sentencing comes up in February 2024.

Meanwhile, the Chinese national has tried to get a green light to return to his home in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). US prosecutors have vehemently argued against this, saying CZ might not make the sentencing date.

They further stated that the lack of an extradition treaty with the Middle East nation would prove a thorny issue if CZ decides to stay in the country with his family.

CZ has objected that he is not a flight risk, pointing out that he made the trip earlier to answer US government agencies’ questions before stepping down from the Binance platform.

Not Approved to Travel Out

Although Changpeng Zhao (CZ) hoped the recent filing would enable him to exit the US, Judge Richard Jones did not grant the expected reprieve.

As a result, the decision made on November 27 to withhold approval pending a court review by the US government remains in effect. This implies that Changpeng Zhao cannot depart for the UAE. However, he retains the freedom to move within the North American nation.

Following CZ’s departure, newly appointed CEO Richard Teng expressed the platform’s commitment to intensifying collaboration with global policymakers in his inaugural blog post.

To achieve this, Teng stated that the premium Bitcoin exchange would focus on responsible growth while staying true to its innovative roots that propelled it to its zenith years ago.

Despite travails with regulators, the Binance exchange has maintained its top spot on the daily trading index.

According to CoinMarketCap, the centralized crypto operation currently processes more than $15 billion in digital assets orders on a daily basis, with the Coinbase exchange coming in a distant second with over $2 billion.

Binance also boasts a broader market reach with stronger weekly visit metrics.

About Jimmy Aki PRO INVESTOR

Based in the UK, Jimmy is an economic researcher with outstanding hands-on and heads-on experience in Macroeconomic finance analysis, forecasting and planning. He has honed his skills having worked cross-continental as a finance analyst, which gives him inter-cultural experience. He currently has a strong passion for regulation and macroeconomic trends as it allows him peek under the global bonnet to see how the world works.