Besides the fines Changpeng Zhao will pay, Binance has also agreed to pay $4.3 billion to the United States Department of Justice (DoJ).
Binance founder Changpeng Zhao (CZ) has been released from custody after agreeing to a personal recognizance bond of $175 million.
Mr Zhao pled guilty to accusations by federal officials that he violated the Bank Secrecy Act. According to the prosecutors, Binance and CZ knowingly allowed US customers on the platform without conducting proper KYC and AML checks.
While Binance and CZ previously rejected these allegations, filing a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, the duo acquiesced on Tuesday. Consequently, CZ stepped down from his position as CEO and paid the $175 million bond for his release from custody.
In a long-form post on X, Changpeng Zhao acknowledged that his decision to step down was emotional. “I made mistakes, and I must take responsibility. This is best for our community, Binance, and myself,” he explained.
Changpeng Zhao’s Terms of Release
Aside from the $175 million bond, CZ will also post $15 million in a trust account by Davis Wright Tremaine. The erstwhile CEO also needs two guarantors to pledge $250,000 and $100,000, respectively.
While awaiting sentencing, Zhao must avoid any violation of the law, stay away from controlled substances, and avoid tempering with witnesses or victims. He must also appear in court whenever due. A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Feb. 23, 2024, at 9 a.m. Pacific Time. Should CZ violate the terms of his release before the time, he will forfeit all funds.
Besides the fines Changpeng Zhao will pay, Binance has also agreed to pay $4.3 billion to the United States Department of Justice (DoJ). However, CZ also noted that the resolution with the US agencies shows Binance did not misappropriate user funds or engage in market manipulation as previously alleged.
Market Actors Share Opinions on CZ’s Guilty Plea
Meanwhile, different market actors have voiced their opinions about the case resolution. Many opined that CZ took a hit for the entire crypto industry.
Founder and CEO of ShapeShift, Erik Voorhees, thanked CZ for the frontrunner role he had been playing in the crypto space. Similarly, Tron Founder Justin Sun recognized CZ’s efforts to advance the industry. Mr Sun said:
“Without you, the cryptocurrency industry wouldn’t have reached the heights it has today.”
Elsewhere, US Senator Elizabeth Warren stated that Zhao’s guilty pleas are predictable and “part of a larger trend of criminal activity in the crypto industry.”
“Law enforcement and national security officials need additional authorities and resources to pursue money laundering, sanctions evasion, & criminal activity facilitated through crypto,” she concluded.