The former CEO of Binance will not be permitted to return to his residence in the United Arab Emirates while he awaits sentencing, pending a motion for review submitted by the U.S. government.
Changpeng “CZ” Zhao may not be allowed to leave the country while he awaits sentencing. Zhao entered a guilty plea to one felony charge as part of a settlement with the US Department of Justice involving the cryptocurrency exchange Binance.
Judge Richard Jones stayed a magistrate judge’s decision to allow CZ to return to the United Arab Emirates, where he has family, according to a filing made on November 27 in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle. The judge ruled that CZ would not be allowed to leave the country until a court decision was made regarding a motion for review from the US government.
On November 21, Zhao pleaded guilty to one felony count of failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program as CEO of Binance, a violation of the US Bank Secrecy Act. After posting a $175 million bond, he is essentially free to travel within the United States until his sentencing, which is scheduled for February 2024. Under federal sentencing guidelines, CZ could face up to 18 months in prison.
CZ stepped down as CEO of Binance on November 21 as part of a settlement with the US Department of Justice in which he pleaded guilty to one felony charge and agreed to pay regulators $150 million. In exchange for approximately $4.3 billion in penalties, the agreement largely allowed the crypto exchange to avoid additional charges.
The judge’s decision is a setback for Zhao, who had hoped to return to the UAE while he awaits sentencing. However, the DOJ’s motion to keep Zhao in the US is still pending, and it is possible that he could be allowed to leave the country if the court finds that he is not a flight risk.
The case is also a reminder of the importance of compliance with anti-money laundering laws. Binance is one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, and its failure to comply with these laws could have serious consequences.