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No Go for CZ: $4.5B Binance Stake Fails to Secure Travel Approval from Judge

2 mins
Updated by Kyle Baird
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In Brief

  • Federal judge denies Changpeng Zhao's proposed $4.5 billion bond for UAE travel, mandating his stay in the US.
  • In November 2023, Zhao stepped down as Binance CEO after pleading guilty to US anti-money laundering charges.
  • Facing up to 10 years in prison, Changpeng Zhao agreed not to appeal any sentence under 18 months.
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Changpeng Zhao, the former CEO of the crypto exchange giant Binance, has been denied permission to leave the US despite offering a staggering $4.5 billion bond.

This development follows Zhao’s guilty plea to US anti-money laundering charges and marks a significant chapter in authorities’ ongoing scrutiny of the cryptocurrency industry.

Zhao Blocked from US Exit Despite Binance Stake Offer

Zhao, who stepped down from his role at Binance in November 2023, found himself entangled in a complex legal situation with the US justice system.

He proposed to pledge his entire $4.5 billion stake in Binance.US for permission to travel to the United Arab Emirates. However, this request was firmly denied by the US District Court in Seattle. This denial underscores the severity of the charges against him and the gravity with which the court views his case.

The ruling, detailed in a court filing, came from Judge Richard A. Jones of the Western District of Washington at Seattle. The document highlights the substantial financial offer made by Zhao in his bid to secure travel approval.

Read more: Top 7 Binance Card Alternatives Available in Europe

Despite the enormity of the bond, the court upheld its decision to keep Zhao within US borders. It cited the need to ensure his presence through the sentencing process set for February 2024.

“It is ordered that the condition permitting Defendant to return to the UAE pending sentencing is stayed until such time as this Court resolves the Government’s motion for review.” 

This legal saga represents a significant moment in the ongoing regulatory and legal challenges faced by the cryptocurrency industry. Zhao, a citizen of both Canada and the United Arab Emirates, now finds himself at the center of a case with potentially far-reaching implications.

The court’s decision to deny his travel signals a no-tolerance stance by US authorities towards any infringement of anti-money laundering laws.

CFTC’s Landmark Ruling Against Binance and Zhao

Zhao’s situation is further complicated by the substantial financial penalties imposed on both him and Binance. These penalties are part of the settlement with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

The court has ordered Zhao to personally pay a $150 million civil monetary penalty. Additionally, Binance is required to disgorge $1.35 billion of alleged ill-gotten transaction fees. It must pay a further $1.35 billion penalty to the CFTC.

These penalties underscore the severity of the violations and the US government’s commitment to enforcing its regulations within the cryptocurrency sector.

Zhao faces a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. However, he has agreed not to appeal any sentence of up to 18 months. This signifies his acknowledgment of the missteps and the need to take responsibility for them.

“I made mistakes, and I must take responsibility.”

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This article was initially compiled by an advanced AI, engineered to extract, analyze, and organize information from a broad array of sources. It operates devoid of personal beliefs, emotions, or biases, providing data-centric content. To ensure its relevance, accuracy, and adherence to BeInCrypto’s editorial standards, a human editor meticulously reviewed, edited, and approved the article for publication.

Kyle Baird
Kyle migrated from the East Coast USA to South-East Asia after graduating from Pennsylvania's East Stroudsburg University with a Bachelor of Science degree in 2010. Following in the footsteps of his grandfather, Kyle got his start buying stocks and precious metals in his teens. This sparked his interest in learning and writing about cryptocurrencies. He started as a copywriter for Bitcoinist in 2016 before taking on an editor's role at BeInCrypto at the beginning of 2018.