The sentencing of CZ, the founder and former CEO of Binance, has taken a new turn as the scheduled date has been pushed back to April 30.
This development came to light through a “notice of rescheduled hearing” filed in a Seattle Federal Court on February 12.
Initially scheduled for February 23, the sentencing has been rescheduled, marking another chapter in this high-profile legal battle.
Zhao had previously pleaded guilty to money laundering charges, with expectations of facing a sentence of up to 18 months in prison. However, a filing by the prosecution on November 24 hinted at the possibility of a more severe punishment than initially foreseen.
The defense’s assertion that Zhao may face only a “brief” sentence contrasts sharply with the prosecution’s stance, indicating that the Guidelines range could extend to as much as 18 months, with the potential for a sentence up to the statutory maximum of ten years, according to Cointelegraph.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding the length of his sentence, speculation persists regarding the eventual outcome. For instance, former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission official John Reed Stark suggests a possible 12–18 month sentence for Zhao, likely to be served in a minimum security prison as per U.S. sentencing guidelines.
However, Zhao’s legal team is expected to advocate for leniency, potentially seeking no jail time or proposing alternative sentencing arrangements such as combining prison time with home detention and probation.
Currently out on bail with a hefty $175 million bond, Zhao remains in the U.S., awaiting his sentencing. A federal court ruling on December 29, 2023, prevented him from traveling outside the country, denying his second request to leave for Dubai, where his family resides.
In a letter to Judge Richard Jones, Zhao’s lawyers disclosed that he had offered his equity in Binance.US as security, valuing it at approximately $4.5 billion based on a funding round from two years ago. However, concerns were raised, particularly if Zhao was allowed to travel to Dubai.
Zhao’s legal troubles stem from his admission of failing to maintain an effective Anti-Money Laundering program at Binance, culminating in a $4.3 billion settlement with the U.S. government for allegedly enabling illicit fund transfers through the exchange.
As part of the settlement, he resigned as CEO of the crypto exchange, marking a significant shift in the leadership landscape within the industry.