It’s official: Former Binance CEO must stay in US until sentencing
Changpeng Zhao may be using his time in the US to meet with founders, according to posts on X
Binance co-founder Changpeng Zhao | Piaras Ó Mídheach/Web Summit via Sportsfile/"PO1_3394″ (CC license)
Former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao will remain in the US until his sentencing date, a judge ruled Thursday.
Judge Richard Jones sided with the government’s motion to prevent Zhao from returning to the United Arab Emirates — where he resides with his partner and children. Originally, Magistrate Judge Brian Tsuchida leaned towards letting Zhao return to the UAE until his sentencing hearing.
However, Judge Jones put a temporary hold on the decision until the government could file its motion. The government, in its filing, argued that while they don’t believe that Zhao needs to be detained while he awaits sentencing, the US does not have an extradition treaty with the UAE.
“The government contends that the absence of an extradition treaty with the UAE, combined with the defendant’s significant assets and strong connections to the UAE, would allow him to evade his obligation to return to the United States for sentencing,” the filing said.
The government is also under the belief that the UAE offered Zhao citizenship and wouldn’t be inclined to extradite Zhao.
Zhao’s legal team argued that he self-surrendered to the government and took “full responsibility for past actions” with his plea agreement. He also has no prior criminal history.
The bail package, which was originally set by Judge Tsuchida and would have allowed Zhao to leave the country, is hefty but not enough to prevent Zhao from leaving and not returning, Judge Jones ruled.
Zhao’s sentencing is set for Feb. 23.
The former CEO, who has a very active presence on X, has been giving little updates on what’s next for him. Earlier this week, he posted “learning again, by meeting founders.”
When Zhao announced his resignation as part of his plea deal, he posted that he would be taking a break and then would “probably do some passive investing, being a minority token/shareholder in startups in areas of blockchain/Web3/DeFi, AI and biotech.”
“I am happy that I will finally have more time to spend looking at DeFi,” he added.
The government announced plea agreements with both Zhao and Binance at the end of November. As part of the agreement, Zhao is banned from operating or managing the exchange for a period of three years. He pleaded guilty to violating the Bank Secrecy Act.
Binance paid a $4.3 billion settlement to the US, and pleaded guilty to operating as an unlicensed money transmitting business.
In addition to the plea agreements, Binance and Zhao still face a lawsuit from the US Securities and Exchange Commission, which claims that the exchange and its former executive commingled funds as well as offering and selling unregistered securities.
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