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Judge Rules Binance Founder Must Remain in US 


Changpeng Zhao, the co-founder of cryptocurrency exchange Binance Holdings, is reportedly facing legal restrictions that prevent him from returning to his home in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). 

U.S. District Judge Richard Jones in Seattle made this ruling Monday (Nov. 27), putting on hold a previous decision allowing Zhao to return to the UAE following his guilty plea to U.S. criminal charges, Bloomberg reported Monday. 

Zhao’s guilty plea stems from charges related to failing to implement anti-money laundering policies and U.S. sanctions violations, according to the report. To ensure his appearance for sentencing on Feb. 23, Zhao agreed to post a bond of $175 million, secured by $15 million in cash held in trust. 

While the maximum sentence for Zhao’s charges is 10 years in prison, it is widely expected that he will receive a lesser sentence of no more than 18 months, the report said. Additionally, Zhao has agreed to pay a $50 million fine. 

Binance also pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $4.3 billion in penalties and forfeitures, per the report. 

Federal prosecutors argued against allowing Zhao to return to the UAE, citing concerns about his significant assets, ties to the UAE and the absence of an extradition agreement between the U.S. and the UAE, according to the report. 

Zhao, however, maintains that he is not a flight risk and came to the U.S. voluntarily to accept responsibility for his actions, per the report. 

He agreed to step down and plead guilty to violating criminal U.S. anti-money laundering requirements on Tuesday (Nov. 21) in order to resolve long-running investigations into Binance. 

The company acknowledged that it did not have adequate compliance controls in place when it was first launched. 

“Binance grew at an extremely fast pace globally, in a new and evolving industry that was in the early stages of regulation, and Binance made misguided decisions along the way,” the company said when announcing the deal on Tuesday. “Today, Binance takes responsibility for this past chapter.” 

The end of the case against Binance may mark a new beginning for cryptocurrencies, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong told CNBC on Monday. 

“The enforcement action against Binance, that’s allowing us to kind of turn the page on that and hopefully close that chapter of history,” Armstrong said.