A U.S. federal judge has endorsed the plea deal agreed upon between the U.S. government and Changpeng Zhao, the founder of Binance, widely known as “CZ.” Judge Richard Jones approved the plea in a recent court document, setting the sentencing for February 2024.
U.S. Federal Judge Confirms CZ’s Plea Agreement
On November 21, 2023, Binance concluded a settlement with key U.S. institutions, namely the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The settlement stemmed from allegations of Binance’s failure to register as a money services business and violations of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), leading to a $4.3 billion settlement payment by the company.
CZ acknowledged his guilt in breaching the BSA. U.S. prosecutors have requested the court to retain CZ in the U.S. until his sentencing. According to a document filed on December 6, 2023, Seattle District Court Judge Richard Jones has ratified the plea agreement. Jones noted the court’s consideration of the recommendation and the absence of any objections. “The defendant is adjudged guilty of such offense,” Jones ordered. The court has scheduled all parties to reconvene for the sentencing on February 23, 2024.
Subsequently, after the DOJ settlement in November, CZ resigned as CEO of Binance, with Richard Teng assuming the role. Binance is now subject to stringent oversight by federal authorities. Currently released on a $175 million bail bond, CZ is restricted from returning to his residence in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The ex-chief of Binance faces a potential 18-month prison term and has paid $150 million in fines for his violations.
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