Binance Founder Changpeng Zhao Agrees to Step Down, Plead Guilty

By Dave Michaels, Patricia Kowsmann and Vivian Salama. (The Wall Street Journal). November 21, 2023.

The chief executive of Binance, the largest global cryptocurrency exchange, plans to step down and plead guilty to violating criminal U.S. anti-money-laundering requirements, in a deal that may preserve the company’s ability to continue operating, according to people familiar with the matter. 

Changpeng Zhao is scheduled to appear in Seattle federal court Tuesday afternoon and enter his plea, the people said. Binance, which Zhao owns, will also plead guilty to a criminal charge and agree to pay fines totaling $4.3 billion, which includes amounts to settle civil allegations made by regulators, the people said.

The deal would allow Zhao to retain his majority ownership of Binance, although he won’t be able to have an executive role at the company. He would face sentencing at a later date.

The outcome resembles an earlier case that prosecutors brought against the executives of BitMEX, an exchange for trading crypto derivatives that was based in the Seychelles. Its former CEO, Arthur Hayes, pleaded guilty to violating anti-money-laundering law and was later sentenced to two years probation, avoiding a possible prison term of six to 12 months. 

Read the full story here: The Wall Street Journal.

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