Judge Orders Binance Founder CZ to Remain in US
U.S. federal judge rules Binance founder must stay in U.S. until sentencing in 2024 due to flight risk concerns.
A U.S. federal judge has ruled that Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, the founder of Binance, must remain in the United States until his sentencing in February 2024, citing concerns about him potentially fleeing the country. This decision was made on December 7 by Judge Richard Jones of the Seattle district court, following Zhao's guilty plea to charges of money laundering on November 21. Zhao, who could face up to 18 months in prison, has agreed not to contest any sentence of that duration.
Judge Jones highlighted Zhao's significant wealth and properties outside the U.S. and his lack of ties within the country as reasons for the decision. He noted that Zhao's family lives in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and that Zhao seems to have a favored status there. These factors led the judge to conclude that there is a substantial risk of Zhao not returning to the U.S. if allowed to go back to the UAE.
“Based on the foregoing reason, the Court GRANTS the government’s motion, and the defendant shall remain in the continental United States during the period between his plea and sentencing.”
The judge's ruling came after federal prosecutors expressed concerns that they wouldn't be able to ensure Zhao's return to the U.S. if he left. Although Zhao's guilty plea was accepted by Judge Jones on December 6, the decision on whether to allow him to return to Dubai, where he resides, was pending.
Zhao is currently out on a $175 million bond, primarily composed of assets outside the U.S. government's reach. The conditions of the bond permit him to travel within the U.S. and allow his family to visit him, which Judge Jones described as not overly restrictive.
This ruling follows the November settlement between Binance, Zhao, and U.S. regulators, where they agreed to pay $4.3 billion. The settlement acknowledged violations of running an unlicensed money-transmitting business and breaching the Bank Secrecy Act, leading to Zhao stepping down as CEO of Binance.