Former Binance CEO 'CZ' Sentenced To Only Four Months In Jail For Money Laundering 

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Tuesday, Apr 30, 2024 - 07:55 PM

Former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao ("CZ") was sentenced to four months in jail on Tuesday in a Seattle federal court, according to The Wall Street Journal. Late last year, CZ pleaded guilty to money-laundering charges and relinquished his position as the head of Binance. He was also fined $50 million, while the world's largest cryptocurrency trading company was fined $4.3 billion

"You had a responsibility to comply with United States regulations. Not some but all," US District Judge Richard A. Jones said, noting, "You failed at that opportunity." 

The 47-year-old billionaire, who ranks number 38 on the Bloomberg Billionaire list, pleaded guilty in November to violating US anti-money laundering charges. Prosecutors alleged that Binance failed to report over 100,000 suspicious transactions over the years. 

"Zhao's willful violation of US law was no accident or oversight," prosecutors said, adding, "He made a business decision that violating US law was the best way to attract users, build his company, and line his pockets."

In a tense courtroom moment, CZ's lawyers made a plea for leniency, requesting no jail time and a period of probation. They cited CZ's clean criminal record. 

Judge Richard Jones found Zhao's policy of "better to ask forgiveness than permission" very troubling but later decided on a lesser sentence than the 36 months requested by the prosecutors. 

"Everything I see about your history and characteristics is of a mitigating nature and a positive nature," the judge said, citing CZ's non-existent criminal record and low probability of reoffending. 

The Block cited Better Markets CEO Dennis Kelleher, who said the entire case was a "miscarriage of justice" and prosecutors should have charged other Binance employees. 

"Notwithstanding the shocking, years-long, egregious crimes Binance's money laundering enabled and facilitated, the Department of Justice (DOJ) charged just one person, Binance's Founder, Owner, and former Chief Executive Officer, Changpeng Zhao (CZ), and just one count of violating the Bank Secrecy Act for failing to ensure Binance implemented an effective anti-money laundering compliance program," Kelleher said.