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Disgraced Ex-Binance CEO Barred From Leaving U.S. Before Sentencing

A U.S. district court judge barred Ex-Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao from leaving the continental United States as he awaits sentencing after he pled guilty last month to violating the Bank Secrecy Act, among other crimes.

Zhao’s family ties to the United Arab Emirates and the vast wealth he enjoys within its borders—not to mention the lack of an extradition treaty with the U.S.—prompted United States District Judge Richard Jones to side with U.S. prosecutors asking that Zhao be disallowed from leaving the country.

“The absence of an extradition treaty, the defendant’s extraordinary financial capabilities, the unusual circumstance that the defendant appears to have favored citizen status by the fact the UAE granted him citizenship complicate the willingness of this Court to have complete confidence that he will return to the United States for sentencing,” Jones said in a Thursday ruling.

Zhao posted a $175 million bond last month and is set to be sentenced in February, the latest crypto kingpin to plead guilty to federal charges. The government may seek as high as an 18-month prison sentence, on top of the tens of millions Zhao agreed to pay in fees.

“The defendant is not facing an insignificant sentence,” Jones said. “While the bail package is substantial, if not unprecedented, it is a package that appears to be largely comprised of assets beyond the government’s reach.”

“The defendant has not established by clear and convincing evidence that he is not likely to flee if he returns to the UAE,” Jones continued.

His ruling leaves Zhao free to travel wherever he likes until his sentencing, so long as he remains in the continental U.S.


December 2023