Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao Admits Guilt in Federal Charges CaseNovember 21, 2023
The leader of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange will plead guilty to federal crimes and step down as CEO on Tuesday in a plea deal. Binance boss Changpeng Zhao will admit to breaking U.S. money laundering laws in a hearing in Seattle federal court, the Wall Street Journal reported. Binance as a company will also plead guilty and pay a $4.3 billion fine. Zhao’s departure as CEO will likely allow Binance to continue operating, according to the Journal. The feds will allow Zhao to maintain his majority stake in Binance, but he’ll be barred from holding an executive job. He will be sentenced at a later date. The Justice Department has been investigating Binance since 2018, just one year after Zhao founded the exchange. Binance processed more than $10 billion in transactions for criminals and companies trying to avoid U.S. sanctions. Zhao’s decision to plead guilty in the criminal case stands in stark contrast to his blustery combat with the Securities and Exchange Commission after the federal regulators sued him in civil court earlier this year. The SEC claimed Binance and Zhao intentionally broke 13 financial rules to operate the crypto exchange in the U.S. Tuesday’s deal did not settle the SEC’s lawsuit. Binance became the undisputed king among crypto exchanges after its rival, FTX, imploded in late 2022. In that case, FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried refused to take a plea deal and fought the case all the way to Manhattan Federal Court. The Justice Department has previously cut plea deals with criminal crypto CEOs, including BitMEX boss Arthur Hayes, who avoided potential jail time by copping to violating money laundering laws and instead received two years of probation in May 2022.