Will Binance’s Changpeng Zhao Return Home Before Sentencing?

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Former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao is embroiled in legal proceedings for violating anti-money laundering regulations in the United States. He has pleaded with his legal team to return to his home in the United Arab Emirates before his sentencing.

Zhao, who relinquished his CEO position after pleading guilty, faces potential prison time and significant financial penalties.

Binance’s Changpeng Zhao Wants to Go Home

Changpeng Zhao’s counsel has requested US District Judge Richard Jones to uphold the bail conditions authorized by US Magistrate Judge Brian Tsuchida. These conditions would allow Zhao, a UAE and Canadian citizen, to leave the US while he awaits his February 23, 2024, sentencing.

Zhao has complied with a considerable $175 million bail bond as part of his commitment to face the charges.

The Justice Department, however, expressed concerns about Zhao’s potential flight risk. The federal agency emphasized the lack of an extradition treaty between the US and the UAE.

Indeed, prosecutors are pressing to reverse the decision to let Zhao travel abroad. Given his extensive financial resources, they argue that ensuring Zhao’s return for the sentencing might be challenging.

“In the vast majority of cases, a multi-billionaire defendant who has pleaded guilty, faces possible prison time, and lives in a country that does not extradite its citizens to the United States would be detained,” lawyers said.

Still, Zhao’s legal representatives argue that he has demonstrated responsibility by voluntarily appearing in the US. They contend that his return to the UAE would enable him to prepare his family for the upcoming sentencing. Surprisingly, Judge Tsuchida seems to agree.

In a recent filing, Judge Tsuchida argued that Zhao’s actions “speak louder than the worries.” He maintains Zhao had no obligation to go to the US, but he did as his intent was “to resolve this case, not run.”

“Based on all the relevant facts, including Mr. Zhao’s voluntary self-surrender, his intent to resolve this case, and the sizable bail package he proposed, Judge Tsuchida found that Mr. Zhao presents no risk of flight, even while residing in the UAE,” the filing reads.

Changpeng Zhao’s involvement in Binance’s failure to implement an effective anti-money laundering program led to substantial repercussions. US authorities have accused the firm of violating anti-money laundering and sanctions laws, failing to report over 100,000 suspicious transactions, including dealings with entities the US labels as terrorist organizations.

“On that note, I am proud to point out that in our resolutions with the US agencies, they do not allege that Binance misappropriated any user funds, and do not allege that Binance engaged in any market manipulation. Funds are SAFU,” Zhao said.

Read more: 7 Best Binance Alternatives in 2023

As part of a plea agreement, Binance is set to pay over $4.3 billion to the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission. Zhao’s request to return home remains contentious with a potential sentence of up to 18 months in prison looming.

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