Changpeng Zhao, the founder of Binance, also known as CZ, has been directed by a federal judge to remain in the US temporarily, following his guilty plea to criminal charges related to his cryptocurrency exchange. The court ruling mandates his presence in the country, at least until his sentencing hearing scheduled for February 23. Despite being released on a substantial $175 million bond, prosecutors have advocated for restrictions on Zhao's travel, asserting that he poses a potential flight risk.
Zhao's legal team argued for his freedom to travel, emphasizing that he willingly came to the US for his guilty plea. In a briefing, they highlighted his voluntary cooperation, countering the government's push for detainment. Notably, the government acknowledged the unusual nature of allowing a billionaire defendant, who has admitted guilt and faces potential prison time, to remain free.
Prosecutors, in their court filing, contended that Zhao's flight risk could be mitigated by compelling him to stay in the US and preventing him from returning to the UAE, considered a potential safe haven. Last week, Zhao resigned as the CEO of Binance, the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange, after pleading guilty to federal charges. The plea also included an agreement to pay fines totaling $4.3 billion.
The Justice Department's statement revealed that Zhao, a Canadian national, pleaded guilty not only to the criminal charges but also to failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering (AML) program, violating the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). This admission led to his resignation as the CEO of Binance. Additionally, court documents disclosed that Binance acknowledged prioritizing growth and profits over compliance with US law.