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U.S Court Jails Former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao For Four Months

Binance founder Changpeng “CZ” Zhao was sentenced to four months in prison on Tuesday after pleading guilty to money laundering violations last year.

CZ “had the personnel, resources, and wherewithal to comply with U.S. regulations,” U.S. District Judge Richard Jones said in a Seattle courtroom while delivering Zhao’s sentence. “But failed at that opportunity.”

CZ Gets Four-Month Sentence

The ex-Binance CEO apologized during the April 30 sentencing hearing and said he wanted to take responsibility for his “mistakes”. Zhao also revealed that Binance has implemented a Know Your Customer and anti-money laundering program and is cooperating with U.S. authorities.

“The court finds the defendant has accepted responsibility. “Everything I see about your history and characteristics are of a mitigating nature and a positive nature,” said Judge Richard. The judge further pushed back against prosecutors’ recommendation for a three-year prison term.

Nonetheless, Zhao’s remorse wasn’t enough as he will serve four months in a U.S. federal prison. Specifically, the judge indicated that he was “deeply troubled” by a statement from CZ that said, “It was better to ask for forgiveness than permission.”

Zhao launched Binance in 2017, and under his leadership, the firm grew into the world’s largest crypto exchange by trading volume. But in November, Zhao pleaded guilty to one count of violating the Bank Secrecy Act and agreed to pay a $50 million fine, while Binance was slapped with a $4.3 billion fine — one of the largest corporate settlements in American history. Additionally, Zhao was forced to step down from Binance as part of the plea agreement and was replaced by Richard Teng.

Since flying from his home in UAE to Seattle to enter that plea, CZ has been restricted from leaving the U.S. as travel limitations were imposed on him by Judge Jones, despite being free on a $175 million bond. This was after prosecutors warned that the Binance founder was a flight risk.

In March, Zhao launched Giggle Academy — an educational project devoted to crypto and blockchain for young people.

Meanwhile, Binance remains mired in a lawsuit with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The top Wall Street watchdog sued Binance Holdings in June 2023 for operating as an unregistered exchange and for failing to restrict American investors from accessing Binance.com.

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