U.S. Judge: Binance Founder Changpeng “CZ” Zhao Cannot Leave the U.S. For the Time Being – What’s Going On?

Julia Smith
Last updated: | 2 min read

Binance founder and former CEO, Changpeng Zhao, must stay in the U.S. for the time being until his sentencing in February of next year, a federal judge has ruled.

Last week, Zhao stepped down from his role as CEO of Binance, pleading guilty to violating the Bank Secrecy Act. Binance must pay $4.3 billion in fines and penalties while making a “complete exit” from the U.S. market.

Federal Judge Richard Jones ruled on Monday that Zhao cannot leave the country until he is sentenced. Though he currently does not need to spend time in prison, the Binance founder is currently out on a $175 million bail until his sentencing on February 23rd, 2024.

Zhao’s guilty plea comes just weeks after his rival, FTX founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, was found guilty on seven different fraud charges in Manhattan federal court.

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

Update:

Last week, attorneys for Zhao pushed back against the US Department of Justice’s motion which would require Zhao, a resident of Dubai, to not leave the country. As part of their argument, prosecutors pointed out that the United Arab Emirates has no extradition treaty with the U.S.

Attorneys for Zhao argue that staying in the U.S. will complicate matters for his children and partner, with whom he welcomed a third child in recent months.

“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.”

In a post on X on Tuesday, November 21st, Zhao announced Richard Teng, who previously served as Head of Regional Markets for Binance, has taken over his role as CEO.

“​​He will ensure Binance delivers on our next phase of security, transparency, compliance, and growth,” wrote Zhao.

In his first blog post as the company’s CEO, Teng outlined his goals for the crypto exchange, including working openly with regulators.

“As we usher in the next phase of Binance’s responsible growth, I am excited for the opportunity to engage in a meaningful conversation with global policymakers, to ensure crypto investors remain confident in the industry’s future, and to engage and educate the next billion users so that we may work to ensure the long-term sustainability of crypto,” Teng stated.