CZ’s Lawyers Push Back Against Flight Risk Claims, File Opposing Motion

Julia Smith
Last updated: | 2 min read

Defense attorneys for former Binance CEO, Changpeng Zhao, have legally pushed back against claims made by the government that he is a “flight risk” who should not be allowed to leave the country. 

Zhao’s incentive to stay

In a court filing from November 23rd, representatives for the Dubai-based Zhao argued he posed no flight risk in part due to the fact he traveled to the United States to self-surrender and take responsibility for his crimes. Additionally, the defense for Zhao added that he has no criminal past and is recognizable worldwide.

Moreover, the defense noted that Zhao and his partner welcomed their third child a few months ago and that “preventing him from returning to them would be punitive.”

“Allowing Mr. Zhao to remain in the UAE will, in turn, allow him to take care of his family and prepare them for his return to the U.S. for sentencing,” Zhao’s attorneys wrote.

“To flee would be to risk additional charges, a likely much greater potential Guidelines range, and a host of other grave consequences to Mr. Zhao and Binance,” claimed Zhao’s defense. “To return, however, would be to potentially serve a brief or possibly no prison term and then return to his family with this matter behind him.”

Zhao speaks for himself

“I want to take responsibility and close this chapter in my life,” Zhao said in a hearing on November 21st.

Zhao also rejected claims he would attempt to flee justice in the United Arab Emirates, claiming he took their offer of citizenship “as an honor.”

“I do not want to leverage that to say ‘hey, protect me,’ the Binance founder said.

A $4.3 billion penalty and $175 million bond

The filing comes days after Zhao pled guilty to anti-money laundering charges and stepped down from his role as CEO at the world’s largest crypto exchange. 

As part of the settlement, Binance will have to make a “complete exit” from the U.S. market and pay $4.3 billion to federal government agencies.

“This is one of the largest penalties we have ever obtained from a corporate defendant in a criminal matter,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland.

Former Head of Regional Markets for Binance, Richard Teng, has taken over as CEO. Previously, he served as CEO of the Financial Services Regulatory Authority at Abu Dhabi Global Market.

Currently, Zhao has been released on a $175 million bond and is facing a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. His sentencing is scheduled for February 23rd, 2024.