A significant legal development has emerged in the case of Binance founder CZ, as a federal judge accepted his guilty plea to one count of Bank Secrecy Act violations.
The plea, submitted by Zhao on November 21, was part of the context surrounding Binance’s $4.3 billion settlement with U.S. agencies. In light of this, Judge Richard Jones, in a December 6 filing to a Seattle District Court, endorsed Zhao’s guilty plea, signifying the court’s acknowledgment of the offense.
The plea acceptance by Judge Jones culminated in Zhao’s adjudgment for the violation, with the court ordering him to appear for sentencing scheduled for February 23, 2024. This sentencing could potentially entail an 18-month prison term.
Presently out on a $175 million bond, Zhao’s intended return to the United Arab Emirates, his place of residence, faced opposition from federal prosecutors. Concerns were raised regarding the lack of an extradition treaty between the U.S. and the UAE, raising uncertainties about Zhao’s return if he departed for the UAE.
Prosecutors emphasized the possibility of Zhao opting to stay in the UAE to evade returning to the U.S., citing his familial connections in the region, which include three young children and a partner. These connections, according to prosecutors, might influence Zhao’s decision not to return to the U.S. to serve the potential sentence.
Contrary to these claims, Zhao rebutted the travel block, asserting that he doesn’t pose a flight risk. He defended his actions, highlighting his proactive decision to fly from the UAE to the United States as a demonstration of accepting responsibility for his actions.
The legal proceedings reached a critical juncture when, on November 27, Judge Jones prohibited Zhao from traveling to the UAE until a court ruled on a motion for review from the U.S. government.
This directive emphasized the court’s concerns regarding Zhao’s travel plans and the need for a thorough review of the situation before any decisions on international travel were made.
As the case unfolds, the courtroom drama continues, raising pivotal questions about Zhao’s travel permissions and potential implications for the upcoming sentencing, creating waves in the high-profile legal battle.