Changpeng Zhao, the founder and CEO of Binance, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, has been granted permission to live in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by US court while he awaits sentencing in the United States for money laundering charges.
CZ pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering in a federal court in New York on November 22, 2023. He admitted that under his leadership Binance operated as an unlicensed money transmitting business and violated the Bank Secrecy Act by failing to implement adequate anti-money laundering and know-your-customer policies.
CZ requested to live in the UAE
CZ requested to live in the UAE while he awaits sentencing, arguing that he has been offered a citizenship by the UAE government and that he intends to resolve his case and not flee. He also expressed his appreciation for the US justice system and said that he was impressed by the court hearing.
During the court discussion, Zhao admitted his initial fear, saying, “Before I came, I was a little bit scared.” When you travel to a new country, you never know what will happen.” He was glad to be able to presnt his case in front of teh judge.
The judge decided to grant CZ’s request
In response to CZ’s request, the judge cited the flight risk and the lack of an extradition treaty between the US and the UAE. The judge also pointed out that CZ has access to significant financial resources and connections in the cryptocurrency industry that could facilitate his escape.
However, the judge decided to grant CZ’s request, saying that it was a “very close call” but that he favored CZ’s position. The judge noted that CZ had no obligation to come to the US and that he showed up voluntarily. The judge also said that CZ’s actions may speak louder than the worries and that he believes that CZ wants to resolve his case and not run.
The judge imposed several conditions on CZ’s release, including that he must reside at a residence that he will maintain and let his lawyers know, that he must surrender his passport and any other travel documents, that he must report to the pretrial office regularly, and that he must return to the US 14 days prior to his sentencing.
CZ’s case is one of the most high-profile prosecutions of a cryptocurrency executive in the US. It reflects the growing scrutiny and regulation of the cryptocurrency industry by the US authorities, who have expressed concerns about the potential use of cryptocurrencies for illicit activities such as money laundering, tax evasion, and terrorism financing.