The founder and former boss of cryptocurrency platform Binance, Changpeng Zhao, is currently not allowed to leave the US due to money laundering charges against the company. A Seattle judge ruled Monday that Zhao, a Canadian citizen, is temporarily barred from traveling to the United Arab Emirates, where he lives. He pleaded guilty last week as part of a plea deal.
According to the US Department of Justice, Binance violated anti-money laundering and sanctions laws and did not properly register as a money exchange service provider. So the company had to pay more than 4 billion dollars (3.65 billion euros) in fines. Zhao pleaded guilty to failing to develop an anti-money laundering program. “I made mistakes and have to take responsibility for them,” he wrote on the texting service X.
The 46-year-old is expected to spend several years in prison. A verdict is expected by the end of February, according to media reports. It’s still unclear whether he will stay in the U.S. until then: Seattle’s decision on Monday is tentative.
Zhao — also known by his acronym CZ — founded Binance in China in 2017 and has since grown it into the world’s largest cryptocurrency platform. The Chinese-born businessman became a millionaire and was seen as a major opponent of Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of the FTX platform, which went bankrupt a year ago, and was recently found guilty of fraud in the US.
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