Changpeng Zhao, the creator of Binance, pleaded guilty to money laundering earlier this week. Zhao’s attorneys are requesting that a federal judge allow him to return to his residence in the United Arab Emirates prior to his sentencing in the United States.
Zhao, who stepped down from Binance as part of a $4.3 billion settlement with the Department of Justice, faces up to 10 years in prison. Although Zhao’s plea deal stipulated that he be allowed to fly home to his family while awaiting sentencing next year, prosecutors have urged U.S. District Judge Richard Jones to bar him from leaving.
The Commodities Futures Trading Commission and other federal regulators and law enforcement organisations are looking into Binance, the biggest cryptocurrency exchange in the world. Officials at the company acknowledged this week, as part of a settlement with the government, that they operated illegally in the United States and failed to stop money laundering on the platform, allowing merchants from countries now under U.S. sanctions, like Iran, to do business with Americans.
Federal investigators alleged that Binance, which processes billions of dollars in trades, illegally profited by allowing “darknet” actors and ransomware hackers to operate on the platform and did not properly screen for other illicit services.
Zhao admitted to knowingly disregarding certain filtration processes for bad actors on his platform and failing to file suspicious activity reports with regulators, according to court documents filed Tuesday.
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