Blockchain News

Binance Founder CZ Barred from Leaving U.S. Amidst Sentencing Uncertainty

The judge ordered a stay on a condition allowing Zhao to return to the United Arab Emirates until the court reviews the government's motion.

In a significant development, Judge Richard Jones ruled that Changpeng Zhao (CZ), the former chief of Binance, must remain in the United States pending his sentencing. The decision overturns a condition that would have allowed CZ to return to his residence in the United Arab Emirates, pending the resolution of the Government’s motion for review.

Prosecutors raised concerns about CZ being a flight risk, pointing to his substantial wealth and the absence of an extradition treaty between the UAE and the U.S. 

This comes in the aftermath of Binance's $4.3 billion fine for violating anti-money laundering measures, leading to CZ's agreement to step down as CEO. Facing a potential sentence of up to 10 years, CZ's legal team argued that he willingly appeared in court once and is likely to do so again.

Prosecutors countered, emphasizing CZ's substantial wealth outside the U.S. and the lack of an extradition deal between the U.S. and the UAE. Additionally, CZ's special status in the UAE, having obtained 'citizenship by invitation,' added complexity to the legal deliberations.

CZ's Exit from Binance and Legal Settlement

The ongoing legal battle follows CZ's decision to step down as CEO of Binance on Nov. 21 as part of a settlement with the Department of Justice (DoJ). The DoJ suggested that CZ's flight risk could be "manageable" if he remained in the country, proposing that detention might not be necessary during the waiting period. 

Further, the latest filings indicate a potential shift in the DoJ's stance, with the possibility of pushing for a maximum sentence of 10 years instead of the initially expected 12-18 months. 

CZ, who pleaded guilty to one felony count related to Binance's Anti-Money Laundering program, is currently free to travel within the U.S., secured by a $175 million bond, until his sentencing in February 2024.

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