The Strategist

U.S. court sentences ex-head of Binance Zhao to four months in prison

05/01/2024 - 05:38

Changpeng Zhao, the founder and former CEO of the biggest cryptocurrency exchange Binance, has been sentenced to four months in prison in the US, writes The Wall Street Journal. The US Department of Justice charged him with money laundering and violating sanctions in November. The defense requested home arrest, while the prosecution demanded a three-year prison sentence.

Ben McShane / Web Summit / Sport
Ben McShane / Web Summit / Sport
Changpeng Zhao entered a guilty plea and consented to pay a fine of $50 million. He willingly entered the United States during the court hearing from the United Arab Emirates, but his exit was promptly blocked.

Zhao was found in violation of the Bank Secrecy Act, according to investigators. Furthermore, more than 1.5 million transfers totaling $900 million for the financing of terrorism and other illicit activities went via Binance under his direction. Additionally, a few of the transactions were against the sanctions policy.

The defendant's defense emphasized that he entered the courtroom of his own free will. The fact that he no longer oversees Binance and that the cryptocurrency exchange entered into an arrangement with US authorities as a result of his submission was another point of contention raised by the lawyers. Prior to this, in cases akin to BitMEX, where the co-founder Arthur Hayes was given a two-year suspended sentence for money laundering, the court did not choose to impose a preventive measure such as incarceration.