March 2, 2024

Breaking: Binance’s CZ to plead guilty to violating Anti-Money Laundering requirements — WSJ

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Changpeng Zhao reportedly plans to plead guilty to violating U.S. Anti-Money Laundering requirements and step down as the CEO of the Binance crypto exchange.

Binance founder Changpeng “CZ” Zhao has reportedly agreed to step down as CEO of his crypto exchange as the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) prepares to announce that it has secured a $4.3 billion settlement with the company.

According to The Wall Street Journal, CZ intends to plead guilty to several charges levied by the DOJ. He’s scheduled to appear in a federal court in Seattle on Nov. 21, where he will enter his plea, the Journal said. The report also indicates that he will plead guilty to “a criminal charge” related to violating Anti-Money Laundering statutes.

Although the deal would allow CZ to retain his majority stake in Binance, indicating he likely won’t face jail time as part of the plea bargain, he won’t be allowed to hold an executive position at the company. 

The Wall Street Journal also reported that this plea deal won’t affect pending litigation with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, as it does not include a settlement for the case it brought against Binance in June.

Related: Binance.US seeks protective order against SEC’s ‘fishing expedition’

However, the DOJ settlement will resolve the company’s issues with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, as the reported $4.3 billion settlement includes funds that will applied to the CFTC’s case and outstanding claims against the firm from the U.S. Treasury Department.

Crypto social media has exploded with activity as the news of CZ’s plea bargain filters through the ranks.

Former pharmaceutical mogul and media-labelled “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli, who served four years of a seven-year sentence on fraud charges, weighed in to seemingly joke that he’d “put in a good word” for CZ, although it’s unlikely the former Binance CEO will face jail time as part of his plea deal. 

Neither Binance nor the U.S. Department of Justice responded immediately to requests for comment. 

Update Nov. 21, 10:22 PST: The author of this article erroneously attributed the origin of the title “Pharma Bro” to Martin Shkreli. It was pointed out that this title was given him by the media and the article has been changed to reflect this.

This is a developing story, and further information will be added as it becomes available.

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