Federal Court Accepts Binance Founder’s Guilty Plea

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The guilty plea by Binance founder Changpeng ‘CZ’ Zhao has been considered and accepted by Judge Richard Jones of the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle. This comes almost two weeks after the Binance founder and the popular crypto service provider pleaded guilty to charges related to the violation of U.S. anti-money laundering laws in November.

In the meantime, nothing has been said concerning CZ’s return to the United Arab Emirates where he allegedly has family ties.

DOJ Hit Binance With $4.3B Settlement Fee

In November, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) demanded a substantial amount of $4.3 billion as the settlement fee to resolve the legal battle with the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange. For more than three years, the DOJ has been investigating the operations of Binance on claims of money laundering, bank fraud, and sanctions violations. 

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Amidst the settlement, the possibility of pressing criminal charges against Binance’s founder showed up. The U.S. authorities immediately launched investigations against CZ who pleaded guilty to the charge at once. In light of the new development, CZ stepped down from his office as CEO of the high-profile cryptocurrency exchange. 

SEC Sues Binance For Securities Law Violation 

Before now, Binance and some of its executives have a pending enforcement action with the U.S. SEC. In a 136-page complaint, the regulatory levied a dozen charges against the digital asset service provider, its U.S. arm, and CZ.

Particularly, the exchange was indicted for operating unregistered U.S.-based financial companies, misleading investors about the companies’ risk management practices, and inflating trading volumes, 

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CZ was called a controlling person who masterminded the transfer of billions of dollars of investor assets to an external entity managed by himself. This lawsuit with the SEC was not as intense as the current one with the DOJ seeing that it led to the forfeiture of his position in the exchange.  

Binance Founder Barred From Leaving the U.S.

His sentence hearing is scheduled to be held in February 2024. With respect to this, the Binance founder had wanted to return home to UAE pending the time for his hearing. His legal team approached the court with the request, citing that CZ does not pose a flight risk as he could appear in court whenever his attention is needed. 

Unfortunately, the court has refused to honor the travel request. The DOJ perceives the possibility that Zhao will not return to the U.S. when it’s time for his sentencing, hence, he is barred from leaving the country for now.

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