A federal judge decided on Thursday that Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, the founder of the cryptocurrency exchange Binance, cannot leave the United Arab Emirates before being sentenced in the United States in February 2024. This is the most recent development in a market shaken by the regulatory uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrencies.
Placed on Travel Ban Until Sentencing Hearing
According to a judge, allowing former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao to travel back to the United Arab Emirates to be with his partner and kids would put him at too great of a danger of flight.
Before, a Department of Justice official informed Reuters that Zhao would be let to go back abroad while he awaited his destiny. These preparations, however, were scrapped when federal prosecutors requested that CZ remain in the country until his sentencing date of February 23, 2024, even though he had admitted guilt and forfeited a sizeable $175 million bond.
Judge Richard Jones of the Seattle District Court agreed with the prosecutors on December 7 that this is an unusual case. He cited the defendant’s immense wealth, property abroad, lack of ties to the United States, and the lack of a formal extradition treaty between the United States and the United Arab Emirates as justifications for travel restrictions.
The person who led Binance to become the biggest cryptocurrency exchange globally, CZ, entered a guilty plea last month for breaking criminal U.S. anti-money laundering regulations. The federal sentencing guidelines put his potential prison term between 10 and 18 months. In addition, the 45-year-old cryptocurrency billionaire consented to pay a $50 million personal fine.
“It seems that he enjoys preferred status in the UAE, where his family also resides. According to Jones, “the Court concludes that the defendant has not produced clear and compelling evidence that he is not likely to flee if he returns to the United Arab Emirates under these circumstances.”
The judge also said that CZ is still allowed to travel across the United States. In addition, his family is welcome to pay him a visit there before the court date. He clarified, “These are hardly onerous restrictions on the defendant’s freedom pending sentencing.”
“The defendant will stay in the continental United States between his plea and sentencing, and the Court GRANTS the government’s motion for the aforementioned reason.”
Zhao’s lawyers had already claimed that by traveling from Dubai to the United States to enter a guilty plea, he had already demonstrated his culpability. They said it was excessive to send his family to the United States just to serve February’s sentence. But in the end, the prosecution persuaded Judge Jones that Zhao need to stay in the country until his sentence hearing since he is capable of avoiding more legal repercussions.
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