Binance Founder Sentenced to four months in Prison for Money Laundering

changpeng zhao
Changpeng Zhao

The world’s largest crypto exchange, Binance, is in hot water as its founder, Changpeng Zhao, has been sentenced to four months in prison in the US for allowing criminals to launder money on the platform. Zhao resigned from his position at Binance in November and pleaded guilty to violating US money laundering laws. The exchange has been ordered to pay a hefty $4.3 billion fine after a US investigation revealed that it aided users in bypassing sanctions.

During a sentencing hearing in Seattle, Judge Richard Jones criticized Zhao for prioritizing Binance’s growth and profits over compliance with US laws and regulations. The Verge reported that prosecutors had sought a three-year sentence for Zhao, but the judge ultimately handed down a four-month prison term.

US officials have accused Binance and Zhao of “wilful violations” of laws that put the US financial system and national security at risk. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen condemned Binance for turning a blind eye to its legal obligations in pursuit of profit, which allowed money to flow to terrorists, cybercriminals, and child abusers through its platform.

Zhao, commonly known as “CZ,” has a staggering $33 billion fortune, according to Forbes magazine.

Nigerian authorities are also investigating Binance, which is registered in the Cayman Islands, for potential money laundering activities. Tigran Gambarayan, the head of financial crime compliance at Binance, denied the charges in a Nigerian court in April. Another executive, Nadeem Anjarwalla, who was detained in Nigeria alongside Gambarayan, managed to escape custody in March.

Zhao’s sentencing follows another high-profile case in the crypto world. Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of rival platform FTX and known as the “crypto king,” was recently sentenced to 25 years in prison for fraud that led to the loss of billions of dollars for customers prior to the firm’s collapse. 

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