Binance Founder CZ Requests Probation in Money Laundering Case

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Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, the former CEO of Binance, has requested probation after pleading guilty to violating money laundering laws. 

His legal team has filed declarations in support of this recommendation, including one suggesting that he could serve time at the Federal Detention Center (FDC) SeaTac, Washington.

Binance CZ Requests Probation

In an April 23 filing in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington at Seattle, Robert Palmquist stated it was “highly probable” that if Zhao were given prison time, he would serve it at FDC SeaTac. 

Palmquist, who served as warden of the facility from 2003 to 2009, described it as having “little natural light” and being understaffed.

Concerns About CZ’s Safety

Palmquist expressed concerns about Zhao’s safety, given his wealth and public figure status, stating that he could be at risk of threats to his physical and mental health, including theft and extortion, if incarcerated. 

He noted that Zhao’s lack of prison experience and financial resources could make him vulnerable to offenders of all security levels.

FDC SeaTac, located south of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, houses 794 inmates, according to its website, and has previously housed individuals involved in high-profile cases like the January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Binance Founder Faces 3 Years in Prison

Zhao’s lawyers submitted letters from friends, family members, and business leaders supporting a lenient sentence for him. Prosecutors have requested three years in prison and a $50 million fine, although under U.S. sentencing guidelines, a judge could impose a sentence of up to 10 years.

CZ will be one of the most high-profile figures in the crypto space to face a federal courtroom for sentencing, following the conviction of former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried. Another prominent figure, former Celsius CEO Alex Mashinsky, is set to go to trial in January 2025.

CZ Apologizes for Poor Decisions

Zhao has largely refrained from public comments since his guilty plea as part of a $4.3 billion settlement between U.S. authorities and Binance in November 2023. 

In a letter to Judge Richard Jones dated Feb. 2, Zhao apologized for his “poor decisions” regarding Binance and expressed readiness to accept responsibility for his actions.

Scheduled for April 30, the sentencing will determine whether Zhao receives probation or goes to prison. Since November, he has been free to travel within parts of the U.S. on a $175 million bond.

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