Binance founder Changpeng “CZ” Zhao poses no flight risk, his lawyers say – CoinDesk

Binance founder Changpeng “CZ” Zhao poses “no flight risk” and should be allowed to return to the United Arab Emirates for now, according to a filing on Thursday.

The partially redacted document rejected a request from the U.S. Justice Department arguing that Zhao should not leave the U.S. before his sentencing in February after pleading guilty to a charge of violating the Bank Secrecy Act. His lawyers argued that by coming to the United States to fight this plea, Zhao had already proven that he was not a flight risk. The judge overseeing his case, Brian Tsuchida, already agreed that Zhao’s appearance was compelling from the start, the filing said.

“Based on all relevant facts, including Mr. Zhao’s voluntary self-surrender, his intent to resolve this case, and the substantial bail he proposed, Judge Tsuchida concluded that Mr. Zhao is not a flight risk, even during his stay in …”UAE,” the filing states.

Binance pleaded guilty to several charges along with Zhao earlier this week and agreed to pay a massive $4.3 billion fine, appoint observers to monitor its compliance program and review its past transactions, and accepted Zhao’s resignation as CEO. Binance’s former regional market head, Richard Teng, has taken over as CEO.

Zhao was released Tuesday on a $175 million personal recognizance bond. Still, his lawyers and the Justice Department are arguing over whether he can return to the UAE, where he is a citizen and where his family lives, or whether he must remain in the United States. If Zhao returns to the UAE, he must return to the US two weeks before sentencing.

The DOJ argued that Zhao could afford to lose the $15 million he had deposited into an escrow account and the $5 million his sureties had deposited. Zhao’s lawyers said this argument ignores the financial commitment he and Binance made. Other DOJ arguments also ignored everything Zhao had already done, such as flying to the US first.

“Despite the weight of all of this information and the consideration given by Judge Tsuchida, the government provides no valid – or additional – basis for insisting that Mr. Zhao remain in the United States, away from his family, for months between his plea and sentencing the filing said.

Zhao’s sentencing is currently scheduled for February 23, 2024. He faces a possible prison sentence of 18 months and agreed in his plea agreement to pay a $50 million fine.