A United States district judge has ruled that Changpeng Zhao (CZ), the founder and former CEO of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange Binance, will remain in the country until his sentencing on February 23, 2024.
According to an official document, Judge Richard Jones agreed with the U.S. government that CZ’s return to his home in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was a flight risk as he has no strong ties to the U.S.
CZ to Stay in the U.S. Until Sentencing
Recall that on November 21, CZ pleaded guilty to failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program on Binance. As part of his settlement with the Department of Justice (DOJ), he paid a $50 million fine and stepped down from the position of the exchange’s CEO while Binance settled its charges for $4.3 billion.
The crypto mogul was released from custody on a $175 million personal recognizance bond, with bail terms that ensured he would return to the U.S. 14 days before his sentencing. He was required to remain in the U.S. until a federal judge reviewed the order to approve or deny his bond conditions before returning to his home in the UAE.
The government requested that CZ be confined to the U.S. until his sentencing because he posed a substantial flight risk. The reasons for the motion were the absence of an extradition treaty between the two nations, the UAE’s citizenship offer to CZ, and his wealth and strong connections to the West Asian country.
An Unusual Case
CZ opposed the government’s motion on several grounds, including his lack of a criminal history. He also mentioned that with Binance, he had taken full responsibility for past actions through their guilty pleas and resolution, stating that neither his wealth nor residence in the UAE is enough to make him a flight risk.
However, Judge Jones believes CZ’s case is unusual and has ruled in favor of the government.
“The defendant has articulated justifications that, in most cases, would cause the government’s motion to be denied. However, a critical feature of the government’s motion is the extent of the defendant’s enormous wealth and absence of an extradition treaty with the UAE,” the judge said.
Meanwhile, CZ faces up to 18 months in prison.