Prosecution seeks 10-year sentence for Binance’s CZ

abdelaziz Fathi

The Seattle federal court has announced a new sentencing date for Changpeng Zhao, the founder and former CEO of the cryptocurrency exchange Binance. Originally scheduled for February 23, Zhao’s sentencing on charges related to money laundering has now been moved to April 30.

Zhao entered a guilty plea last November for violating the Bank Secrecy Act, as part of a settlement where Binance agreed to pay the U.S. government $4.3 billion. He also agreed to a personal fine of $50 million and stepped down from his role as CEO of Binance.

Currently, Zhao is on bail in the United States, having posted a $175 million bond. In December, a U.S. Federal Court decision restricted his travel, rejecting his request to visit Dubai due to concerns over him potentially fleeing.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, Zhao could face up to 18 months in prison, although prosecutors have suggested a maximum sentence of 10 years.

“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,” the prosecutors said in a filing in November.

A federal judge turned down a request from Binance founder Changpeng “CZ” Zhao to travel to the United Arab Emirates, despite Zhao offering his $4.5 billion Binance equity as a security guarantee.

This was not the first time Zhao’s travel request was denied. Earlier in December, Judge Jones refused another application for travel to the UAE, citing Zhao’s “enormous wealth” and potential flight risk. The judge pointed out Zhao’s substantial overseas assets and lack of ties to the United States, along with his family residing in the UAE, as reasons for the decision.

Zhao’s defense argues that he does not pose a flight risk, as previously determined by Judge Brian Tsuchida, and that the government has not provided adequate grounds for an appeal to overturn this finding. They elaborated on CZ’s visibility as a global public figure and his track record, including a lack of criminal history and the non-violent nature of his offenses, to argue against the necessity of him staying in the U.S. before sentencing.

 

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