Former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao has again been barred from leaving the United States while awaiting his sentence for violations of banking laws.
Zhao’s second request for travel liberty was recently refused by U.S. District Judge Richard A. Jones in Seattle.
The details of Zhao’s intended journey remain under wraps as part of the case U.S. v. Zhao, in the U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington.
Just three weeks after Judge Jones reversed an earlier verdict permitting Zhao to journey back to the United Arab Emirates ahead of his sentencing in February, the former Binance boss has been denied bail.
Federal prosecutors argue that Zhao presents a potential flight risk, as he possesses significant assets and ties to countries without U.S. extradition agreements.
Changpeng Zhao’s Net Worth Increased By $25B
Judge Jones is understandably concerned that Zhao could easily forfeit his $175 million bond and flee the country.
After all, Zhao’s net worth has grown significantly in recent years, even as his company faced regulatory hurdles in the United States.
With so much at stake, it will be interesting to see how Zhao responds to the charges against him.
The former Binance CEO’s net worth, majorly denominated in cryptocurrencies, surged in tandem with the market’s recovery from a lengthy bear run.
Zhao, who surrendered his position as Binance CEO as part of his plea agreement, willingly returned to the U.S. to face charges for violating the Bank Secrecy Act, an accusation stemming from Binance’s alleged involvement in a global criminal enterprise.
The market’s recovery from a lengthy bear run, which was precipitated by the collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX exchange in November 2022, caused the former Binance CEO’s net worth to surge.
Zhao, who surrendered his position as Binance CEO as part of his plea agreement, willingly returned to the U.S. to face charges for violating the Bank Secrecy Act, an accusation stemming
Binance, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, has agreed to pay a $50 million fine to the United States government to settle charges that it failed to put in place an adequate anti-money laundering program.
This brings an end to years of regulatory scrutiny for the exchange, which also pleaded guilty to anti-money laundering and sanctions violations, culminating in a $4.3 billion penalty—one of the largest corporate settlements in U.S. history.
Ex-Binance CEO could face decade in Prison
Zhao, if found guilty, may receive a sentence of 12 to 18 months in a minimum security prison.
His legal team is likely to argue that he should not receive any jail time, or at worst, that his sentence should include some prison time as well as home detention and probation.
John Reed Stark, a former Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) official and cybersecurity consultant, recently revealed that prosecutors in the case against Zhao may ask the court to put Zhao in prison for as many as 10 years.
The severity of the charges against Zhao warrant such a severe punishment, Stark believes.
Stark believed that Judge Jones should not allow Mr. Zhao to travel to the UAE until the sentencing hearing, as he represented a legitimate flight risk.
What could happen next in the case against Zhao? Stark outlined several possible scenarios, including the crypto billionaire refusing to cooperate with prosecutors and violating his plea conditions.
These conditions include several restrictions, as well as a three-year ban from associating with the crypto exchange he helped build.