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Former Binance CEO CZ’s Guilty Plea Accepted by US Judge

Hongji Feng
Last updated: | 1 min read
Binance CZ
Source: DALL·E

Changpeng Zhao, former CEO of Binance known as CZ, had his guilty plea accepted by a U.S. judge in a case involving anti-money laundering (AML) regulations.

According to a recent court filing in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle, Judge Richard Jones officially accepted Zhao’s guilty plea. This decision comes weeks after Zhao and Binance acknowledged their regulatory lapses in anti-money laundering practices.

“This Court, having considered the Report and Recommendation of the United States Magistrate Judge, to which there has been no timely objection … hereby accepts the plea of guilty of the defendant … the defendant is adjudged guilty of such offense,” said Judge Richard.

CZ’s Sentencing Date and Bond Terms

The acceptance by the court signifies a major development in the legal proceedings, with Zhao’s sentencing now scheduled for February 2024. The closure of this case is expected to set a precedent in the enforcement of financial regulations within the cryptocurrency industry.

Zhao’s guilty plea last month was part of a comprehensive settlement addressing his and Binance’s roles in anti-money laundering and sanctions violations. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Zhao has committed to a personal fine of $50 million and relinquished his role as CEO of Binance.

Currently released on bond, CZ faces his sentencing on February 23, 2024. Under the terms of his release, Zhao would typically be permitted to travel back to the UAE, but he is required to return to the U.S. two weeks before his sentencing date. However, Judge Jones recently ordered Zhao to remain in the United States for now, pending a final decision on these terms.

Binance’s Fine and Management Changes

In parallel, Binance has agreed to a corporate settlement of $4.3 billion, one of the largest in the history of corporate penalties. This plea marked a significant development in a series of federal investigations targeting compliance practices within the cryptocurrency exchange.

Following Zhao’s guilty plea and subsequent resignation, Binance has undergone notable changes in its management structure. Richard Teng, formerly a director at Binance, has stepped into the role of CEO.

In a recent interview, Teng emphasized the transformative changes the exchange has experienced. “Binance is now ‘totally different’ from its early days,” said Teng. “I’m taking the baton and pushing ahead with our growth agenda while working very closely with global regulators.”