The U.S. Justice Department hinted that Changpeng Zhao, Binance’s founder and former CEO of Binance, could potentially spend up to a decade in prison.
A recent DOJ court filing not only reinforced restrictions on Zhao’s travel but also unveiled the possibility of a potential 10-year prison sentence.
This development unfolds within a complex legal saga involving a substantial $4.3 billion fine and various compliance shortcomings on the path of the world’s largest Bitcoin (BTC) trading venue.
In an unexpected turn of events, legal experts have made it clear that Zhao may get a longer jail term than expected, despite not being guilty of customer funds misappropriation like his American counterpart, Sam Bankman-Fried.
The ex-CEO of the cryptocurrency exchange Binance, admitted last week to a violation of the Bank Secrecy Act. This accusation is related to the company’s alleged participation in an extensive international criminal operation, as reported by the DOJ.
Former SEC Chief John Reed Stark sheds light on the latest twist in the Binance saga, where Zhao faces charges related to a colossal global criminal enterprise.
The document emphasizes the gravity of Zhao’s alleged violations, challenging the conventional belief that a minimum-security sentence was on the horizon.
The DOJ’s frustration stems from Magistrate Judge Brian Tsuchida’s decision to allow Zhao to reside in the UAE until shortly before sentencing. This departure from the norm irks the prosecution, especially considering the usual treatment of high-profile defendants facing prison time.
Corporations are held accountable through their leaders, and in this case, Binance’s plea involved an astronomical $4.3 billion settlement, marking a historic moment in financial regulation.
The plea sheds light on the severity of Binance’s misconduct, implicating Zhao as the orchestrator of crimes ranging from money laundering to enabling terrorism.
The sentencing hearing, slated for Feb. 23, 2024, looms as the pivotal moment when Zhao’s fate will be decided. However, a Nov. 27 review of Zhao’s bail order could offer a glimpse into the judge’s stance on allowing him to travel to the UAE before sentencing.
The prosecution argues that Zhao’s ties to the UAE, coupled with his wealth and citizenship obtained through invitation, make him a flight risk.
Meanwhile, the DOJ has urged Judge Richard A. Jones to reconsider Zhao’s ability to travel, highlighting the risk of non-extradition from the UAE, a concern that intensifies his flight risk.
Prosecutors argue that minimal ties to the U.S. and a $175 million personal recognizance bond, coupled with a $15 million locked in a trust account, make Zhao a serious flight risk.