According to documents filed Tuesday in a Seattle court was presented, Changpeng Zhao Known as CZ, the owner and CEO of popular cryptocurrency exchange Binance has agreed to step down from his job and plead guilty to violating anti-money laundering laws. This action is part of a larger settlement that the US Department of Justice announced and fined the said company more than 4.3 billion dollars.
Zhao also agreed to pay a $50 million fine. CZ with postal publication in X (former Twitter) said: “Today I stepped down as CEO of Binance. Of course, it wasn’t easy emotionally to leave this job, but I know it’s the right thing to do. I made a mistake and I have to take responsibility for it, and this is the best for our community, Binance and me.”
Richard Teng, head of regional markets at Binance, will replace Zhao as CEO. According to the terms set by the US, Binance must appoint an independent monitor for its activities. Zhao is not allowed to be involved in any of the activities of the exchange for three years after the selection of supervisor. Although CZ will no longer have an executive role at Binance, the terms of the deal will allow Zhao to retain majority ownership of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Merrick Garland“Binance has made billions of dollars in illegal cryptocurrency transactions,” the US Attorney General said in a press conference. “Binance has allowed some criminals around the world to use this platform to transfer stolen funds and other criminal proceeds.”
In another part of his explanation, Garland said that Binance has transferred approximately $900 million between the United States and sanctioned countries.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission sued Binance and Zhao a few months ago and accused the exchange in question of illegal activity in the United States. The organization also said that Binance is defrauding investors.
The SEC was trying to freeze Binance’s assets due to illegal actions and disregard for US laws. The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange eventually avoided asset freezes by implementing a series of restrictions that prevented the company and Zhao personally from accessing customer funds.
In addition to Coinbase and Kraken, the SEC targeted Binance several months ago after the FTX crash.
“Last month, the US Department of Justice prosecuted the CEOs of two major cryptocurrency exchanges in two separate criminal cases,” says Garland. The message here should be clear that using new technology to break the law doesn’t make you a disruptor, it actually makes you a criminal.”