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Judge Approves Binance’s $4.3 Billion Payment in US Plea Deal

A US judge has given the green light to Binance Holdings Ltd. for its $4.3 billion payment as part of a plea deal, marking one of the largest criminal penalties in US history against the world’s leading cryptocurrency exchange.

During the sentencing hearing in Seattle on Friday, US District Judge Richard Jones remarked, “This really is a case where the ethics of the company were compromised by greed.”

Late last year, Binance and its founder, Changpeng Zhao, entered guilty pleas for anti-money laundering and sanctions charges to settle a prolonged investigation by prosecutors and regulators.

Under the terms of the agreement, an independent firm will monitor the company’s compliance for up to five years. The appointed monitor has not been announced yet, with reports suggesting that Sullivan & Cromwell, a New York-based law firm, may assume the role.

Prosecutors, in a filing urging the judge to approve the deal, emphasized that Binance exposed the financial system to exploitation by those seeking personal gain. They stated, “In sum, given the nature and seriousness of Binance’s misconduct — it was intentional and led by senior executives, with hundreds of millions of dollars of collateral consequences.”

During the hearing, Josh Eaton, Binance’s deputy general counsel, expressed the company’s acknowledgment of responsibility for its past actions and highlighted the compliance improvements made in recent years.

Judge Jones emphasized that Binance was aware of being subject to US laws but, despite this knowledge, deliberately chose not to adhere to them. The imposed sentence aims to deter such behavior in the future by Binance and similar companies, ensuring the protection of customers.

Changpeng Zhao’s sentencing, postponed until April, is expected to result in a prison term of no more than 18 months, even though he could have faced up to a decade. As part of the plea agreement, Zhao stepped down from his role as the CEO of Binance and agreed to pay a $50 million fine.

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