Following guilty pleas entered at a federal court in Seattle, Changpeng Zhao (CZ), the founder and former CEO of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, has been released from custody on a $175 million personal recognizance bond.
According to a bond document, CZ agreed to return to the U.S. 14 days before his sentencing, which is scheduled for February 23, 2024. Failure to do so would lead to a warrant issued for his arrest, a fine of $250,000, and a sentence of up to ten years in prison.
CZ’s Bail Terms
On Tuesday, November 21, CZ and Binance pleaded guilty to violating anti-money laundering (AML) provisions as part of a settlement deal with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). While Binance agreed to a $4.3 billion fine, CZ agreed to step down as CEO of the exchange and pay a personal fine of $50 million.
After the government announced the actions against Binance and its founder at a news conference in Washington, CZ agreed to be released on a multi-million dollar bail bond. He agreed to give his attorney information about his residence upon release and his current phone number in case of notices on court hearing dates.
Per the bail conditions, CZ must refrain from committing federal, state, or local crime during the period of release, as such development could increase his sentence by a maximum of ten years. In the case of a misdemeanor, his sentence may increase by a year.
In addition, the former Binance CEO agreed not to harass or tamper with witnesses or any individual related to court proceedings in his case. He must desist from taking any controlled substances, like medication, unless prescribed by a licensed physician and cooperate in the collection of DNA samples if such activities are authorized.
Order Subject to Review
Alongside CZ’s $175 million bond, he posted $15 million in a trust account and agreed to forfeit the cash if he violated his bail conditions. While he pledged no properties as collateral, he brought two guarantors who posted $100,000 and $250,000, respectively.
The order is subject to review by a district judge. If the assigned judge denies the review, the order will be effective from November 27, and if the review is granted by the same date, CZ must remain in the U.S. until a decision is made.
The Binance founder faces up to 18 months in prison for violating the Bank Secrecy Act, but prosecutors may ask for a longer jail term.
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