Judge Accepts CZ’s Guilty Plea to Money Laundering, Sets Date for Sentencing

Judge Accepts CZ’s Guilty Plea to Money Laundering, Sets Date for Sentencing

UTC by Temitope Olatunji · 3 min read
Judge Accepts CZ’s Guilty Plea to Money Laundering, Sets Date for Sentencing
Photo: Web Summit / Flickr

Although released on a $175 million bond, debate surrounds whether CZ can safely return home to the UAE before his sentencing hearing without the risk of facing more punishment.

Changpeng Zhao, widely known as CZ, the founder and former CEO of the global cryptocurrency exchange Binance, pleaded guilty to money laundering charges in a Seattle federal court two weeks ago, leaving many curious about the fate of this prominent figure and the face of Binance. Recently, Judge Richard Jones, presiding over the case, officially accepted his guilty plea. However, the sentencing has been postponed and is now scheduled for February 23rd, 2024. According to the guidelines set by United States federal law, CZ could potentially face a prison term of up to 18 months. The court stated:

“This Court, having considered the Report and Recommendation of the United States Magistrate Judge, to which there has been no timely objection, and subject to consideration of the Plea Agreement, hereby accepts the plea of guilty of the defendant. The defendant is adjudged guilty of such offense.”

CZ Not Allowed to Leave the United States Yet

Although released on a $175 million bond, debate surrounds whether CZ can safely return home to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) before his sentencing hearing without the risk of facing more punishment. In addition, prosecutors have raised worries that since the UAE lacks an extradition agreement with the US, CZ could attempt to evade further legal consequences imposed by the court. They said the former CEO has children and a wife in the United Arab Emirates, and if he goes back there, he may not want to return to the United States since he is wealthy enough to live on his money in the UAE.

However, Zhao argues that he came freely from the UAE to the United States to plead guilty and for that reason, he has no reason to run away. However, while Judge Jones accepted the plea itself, he has not yet ruled on what specific travel limitations may apply to CZ leading up to his February court date.

The whole money laundering issue is also part of a comprehensive settlement in which Binance agreed to pay over $4 billion in fines to US financial regulators as part of the penalties for involving in such acts. This also led to the resignation of the founder of the largest exchange in the world from the CEO and chairman of the company’s board. However, he still owns a major share in the company.

Community Eyes Binance as Crypto Prices Stay Steady

As CZ now awaits his ultimate fate after being charged guilty to money laundering, with potential prison time being possible, the crypto community awaits the significance of this, especially for Binance, as the crypto giant now has new leadership and also has a fine of more than $4 billion to pay.

In addition, Binance experienced a sporadic surge in withdrawals within days of these happenings as investors started to withdraw their money for fear of losing their whole money in a company they feared could file for bankruptcy. However, the whole saga between the crypto exchange, its former CEO, and the SEC has not affected crypto prices negatively, as many still anticipate an impending bull run.

Binance News, Blockchain News, Cryptocurrency News, News
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