U.S. District Judge halts Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao’s return to UAE, citing risk of non-return before his February sentencing for financial violations.
The federal court in Seattle has halted the former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao’s application to return to the UAE. The decision, which temporarily bars Zhao from leaving the U.S. until his February sentencing, overturns an earlier ruling that would have allowed him to travel back to the UAE.
The delay was ordered by U.S. District Judge Richard Jones following a request from U.S. prosecutors to reconsider the previous decision. This comes after Zhao admitted guilt to charges related to anti-money laundering and violations of U.S. sanctions, following Binance’s $4.3 billion settlement with the DOJ. His plea was part of a comprehensive deal with the authorities.
Last week, Zhao’s lawyers filed a motion in court, emphasizing that he’s not a flight risk and suggested the court allow him home confinement in the UAE. However, prosecutors have expressed concerns over Zhao’s likelihood of returning to the U.S. for sentencing. They cite his substantial financial resources, strong connections in the UAE and the challenges associated with extradition as key factors contributing to the risk of him not returning.