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Ex-Binance CEO CZ Dealt Blow As Judge Says He Can’t Return To UAE From US For Now

Binance co-founder and former CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao can’t return to his home in the United Arab Emirates for now, a federal judge ruled Monday. This comes after CZ pleaded guilty to violating the U.S. Bank Secrecy Act last week and stepped down from his role as the CEO of the world’s largest crypto exchange.

CZ Barred From Leaving U.S.

Changpeng Zhao posted a $175 million bond that requires him to return to the United States two weeks before his sentencing date, which is scheduled for Feb. 24, 2024.

However, CZ might not be able to return to Dubai while awaiting sentencing with his family. According to a Nov. 27 filing in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington at Seattle, Judge Richard Jone ruled that he would not be allowed to travel to the UAE until a court ruled on a motion for further review from the U.S. government.

This is after prosecutors argued that he poses a flight risk, given his vast amount of wealth and the lack of an extradition treaty with the UAE. The judge’s detention order is the latest twist in an ongoing Binance/CZ saga that has caused ripples throughout the cryptosphere.

A representative from the U.S. Department of Justice told Reuters last week that Zhao would remain in the Seattle area until Monday evening but would be allowed to return to his wife and children in Dubai.

Zhao’s Conviction Looms

CZ resigned as Binance CEO after the exchange reached a $4.3 billion settlement with the U.S. DOJ for allegedly allowing individuals engaged in illegal activities to transfer funds through the platform. As part of his personal deal, the former Binance boss put $15 million in a trust account and had three guarantors offer over $5 million in collateral to secure his $175 million bond.

Defense lawyers argued that CZ had already shown accountability for his actions by flying from Dubai to the U.S. to plead guilty. They claimed his wife and kids cannot relocate to the U.S. for only a few months for a sentencing hearing.

Notably, prosecutors are not pushing for CZ’s pre-sentencing detention, just requiring him to remain on United States soil until his February sentencing. CZ is facing anywhere from 18 months at a minimum-security prison to as many as 10 years — though he could appeal any sentence over 18 months. He will also be paying a $50 million fine.

Binance will continue operating outside the US, with Richard Teng, previously the exchange’s Global Head of Regional Markets, taking over as CEO.

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