Get 40% Off
⚠ Earnings Alert! Which stocks are poised to surge?
See the stocks on our ProPicks radar. These strategies gained 19.7% year-to-date.
Unlock full list

Judge approves Binance $4.3 billion guilty plea as US seeks to modify founder Zhao's bond

Published 02/23/2024, 03:42 PM
Updated 02/23/2024, 06:01 PM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Figurines with computers and smartphones are seen in front of Binance logo in this illustration taken, February 19, 2024. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Friday accepted Binance's guilty plea and more than $4.3 billion penalty for violating federal anti-money laundering and sanctions laws through lapses in internal controls at the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange.

U.S. District Judge Richard Jones in Seattle approved the plea, which includes a $1.81 billion criminal fine and $2.51 billion of forfeiture, about an hour after the government proposed changes to Binance founder Changpeng Zhao's bond, drawing an objection from Zhao's lawyers.

Binance's plea announced in November resolved a years-long probe that found the exchange had failed to report more than 100,000 suspicious transactions involving designated terrorist groups including Hamas, al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.

Prosecutors said Binance's platform also supported the sale of child sexual abuse materials and was among the largest recipients of ransomware proceeds.

In a statement on Friday, Binance said it accepted responsibility, has upgraded its anti-money laundering and "know-your-customer" protocols, and has made "significant progress" toward changes required under its plea agreement.

Zhao has been free in the United States on a $175 million bond after also pleading guilty in November to money laundering violations.

His plea included a $50 million fine and required that he step down as Binance chief executive.

In a court filing, prosecutors said the proposed bond changes were meant to reflect Jones' orders that Zhao stay in the continental United States and under court officer supervision until his April 30 sentencing.

The conditions include that Zhao provide three days notice of any travel plans, surrender his passports and maintain his current residence unless he gets approval for a change.

Pretrial services officers are recommending that Zhao also be subjected to location monitoring.

Prosecutors said they have discussed the changes with Zhao's lawyers several times, but that they "object to this motion as written."

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Figurines with computers and smartphones are seen in front of Binance logo in this illustration taken, February 19, 2024. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

Zhao's lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The cases are U.S. v Binance Holdings Ltd, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington, No. 23-cr-00178, and U.S. v. Zhao in the same court, No. 23-cr-00179.

Latest comments

This a haven for ransomware extortion of worldwide companies
Zhao basically built a multimillion dollar business from scratch, and the US government robbed him blind even after he bent over backwards to acquiesce to US rules and regulations.
Zhao was obviously played by the americans.
Risk Disclosure: Trading in financial instruments and/or cryptocurrencies involves high risks including the risk of losing some, or all, of your investment amount, and may not be suitable for all investors. Prices of cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile and may be affected by external factors such as financial, regulatory or political events. Trading on margin increases the financial risks.
Before deciding to trade in financial instrument or cryptocurrencies you should be fully informed of the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, carefully consider your investment objectives, level of experience, and risk appetite, and seek professional advice where needed.
Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. The data and prices on the website are not necessarily provided by any market or exchange, but may be provided by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual price at any given market, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Fusion Media and any provider of the data contained in this website will not accept liability for any loss or damage as a result of your trading, or your reliance on the information contained within this website.
It is prohibited to use, store, reproduce, display, modify, transmit or distribute the data contained in this website without the explicit prior written permission of Fusion Media and/or the data provider. All intellectual property rights are reserved by the providers and/or the exchange providing the data contained in this website.
Fusion Media may be compensated by the advertisers that appear on the website, based on your interaction with the advertisements or advertisers.
© 2007-2024 - Fusion Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.