Binance and crypto billionaire Changpeng Zhao expected to plead guilty to money laundering violations

6 views 5:31 pm 0 Comments November 21, 2023

Billionaire Changpeng Zhao, CEO of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, is expected to plead guilty to money laundering violations as part of a settlement with the US government that would ease the intense cloud of legal scrutiny hovering over the company, a person familiar with the matter tells CNN. Binance is also expected to expected to plead guilty to the charges.

As part of the agreement, Binance has agreed to pay $4.3 billion in fines and other penalties, a second source tells CNN.

Zhao, the founder and CEO of Binance, has amassed a fortune that Bloomberg pegs at more than $23 billion.

News of the deal, reported earlier by The Wall Street Journal, comes as US officials say they plan to announce a “major illicit financial enforcement action” related to cryptocurrencies later on Tuesday at an event that will include Attorney General Merrick Garland and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

Treasury declined to comment. Binance did not respond to requests for comment.

Federal prosecutors unsealed court records on Tuesday alleging Binance, led by Zhao, “knowingly failed” to register as a money service business, willfully violated the Bank Secrecy Act by failing to implement and maintain an effective anti-money laundering program, and deliberately caused violations of US economic sanctions.

The charges, filed in the US District Court for the Western District of Washington, accused Binance of a “deliberate and calculated effort to profit from the US market without implementing controls required by US laws.”

Prosecutors allege the misconduct started as early as August 2017, continued until at least October 2022, and included certain Binance officers, directors, employees, and agents.