U.S. prosecutors want Binance CEO Changpeng ‘CZ’ Zhao to remain in the country until his sentencing, according to a court filing.
In the filing, prosecutors cite the “substantial risk of flight posed by Zhao,” requesting that he not be permitted to return to the United Arab Emirates ahead of his sentencing on February 23, 2024.
As part of a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Zhao pleaded guilty on one charge of violating the Bank Secrecy Act and stepped down as the exchange’s CEO. He is barred from being an executive with Binance for at least three years after the exchange appoints an independent monitor, but remains majority owner of Binance.
Zhao was taken into custody after his guilty plea, but was subsequently released on a $175 million bond. Prosecutors argue that the former Binance CEO poses a flight risk as a “non-U.S. but UAE citizen with substantial wealth outside the United States, minimal ties to the United States, and a residence in a country without an extradition treaty with the United States.”
A DOJ spokesperson had earlier told Reuters that Zhao would remain in the Seattle area until Monday evening but would be allowed to return to the UAE.
Zhao’s departure as CEO of Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, comes as part of a settlement that will see the exchange exit the U.S. market and pay $4.3 billion in penalties for anti-money laundering and sanctions violations. Binance will continue operating outside of the United States, with Richard Teng, previously the exchange’s Global Head of Regional Markets, taking over as CEO.
“I made mistakes, and I must take responsibility,” Zhao tweeted upon stepping down as CEO.