Ex-Binance CEO Could Be Sentenced To 10 Years In Prison, According To DOJ

Andrew Throuvalas
Last updated: | 2 min read
changpeng zhao
Source: GeekWire/ Taylor Soper

Binance founder Changpeng Zhao (CZ) could be sentenced to up to ten years in prison following his exchange’s historic legal settlement last week, according to a new filing from the Department of Justice (DOJ).

The Justice Department’s statement comes amid ongoing debate on whether CZ presents any “flight risk” and should be forced to wait out his bail term within the United States. While CZ’s attorneys have claimed his sentence will be “brief” giving him no incentive to flee, the DOJ says it could actually be much longer than they claim.

“The reality is that the top-end of the Guidelines range may be as high as 18 months, and the United States is free to argue for any sentence up to the statutory maximum of ten years,” wrote the DOJ in its filing late Friday.

When presiding over CZ’s plea hearing last week, Magistrate Judge Brian Tsuchida released the exchange founder from custody on a $175 million personal recognizance bond.

He was also granted permission to spend his term in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) until 14 days before his sentencing on February 23, 2024, effective Monday at 5 pm ET.

DOJ prosecutors quickly scrutinized the bond agreement as “inefficient,” arguing that they couldn’t secure the bond if he left the country since most of his assets are outside the United States.

The Defense’s Response


CZ’s attorneys later countered that forcing him to stay in the United States would prevent him from taking care of his family, and spending time with them before his sentencing. However, the DOJ cited this as a reason for which CZ might find his sentence more “significant,” giving him a greater flight risk.

The department also cited CZ’s minimal ties to the United States compared to the UAE, where he has wealth citizenship, and family. Furthermore, the UAE lacks an extradition treaty with the United States.

“Given these connections, should Mr. Zhao decide not to return to the United States to face an uncertain sentence, there is no reason to believe that the UAE would hand him over,” the DOJ wrote.

CZ stepped down as the CEO of Binance last Wednesday upon pleading guilty to anti-money laundering and sanctions violations. He was personally fined $50 million while his exchange will be forced to pay $4.3 billion in penalties – the largest enforcement action ever levied against a crypto platform.