Former Binance CEO CZ “poses a serious flight risk,” prosecutors claim, urging him to stay in the US – CoinDesk

Former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) will not be allowed to leave the United States before his sentencing in February on a charge of violating the Bank Secrecy Act, federal prosecutors said in a court filing Wednesday.

Zhao pleaded guilty and resigned from the crypto exchange he founded on Tuesday, while Binance pleaded guilty to several criminal and civil charges related to allowing U.S. users and users from sanctioned regions to use the platform without proper knowledge -Your customer and anti-money knowledge was allowed money laundering programs. Binance agreed to pay $4.3 billion in penalties, one of the largest corporate fines in U.S. Department of Justice history.

In Wednesday’s filing, prosecutors said that as a citizen of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Zhao has “minimal ties to the United States” and may not return if he is allowed to leave. They noted that they were not asking that he be sent to prison before sentencing, only that he remain in the United States. His sentencing is currently scheduled for February 23, 2024 and he could face a fine of more than a year in prison.

Under the terms of his current bond agreement, Zhao can leave the U.S. after depositing $15 million into an escrow account, signing a $175 million personal recognizance bond and finding sureties to provide additional funds.

This was inadequate, prosecutors said in Wednesday’s filing. If Zhao did not return to the United States, they would not be able to secure the $175 million bond since most of his assets are outside the country and Zhao is wealthy enough that he would have the rest of the funds without could pay off problems. Said. There is also no extradition treaty between the UAE and the US

During a hearing on Tuesday, Zhao’s lawyers argued that forcing him to remain in the United States before sentencing would be a burden on him and his family. His wife and children cannot move to the United States during the several-month period between Tuesday’s hearing and February’s sentencing.

Judge Brian Tsuchida asked prosecutors Tuesday whether the fact that Zhao voluntarily came to the U.S. to surrender and plead guilty meant there was no serious risk of flight.

There is a difference between coming to the United States voluntarily to plead guilty and doing so to face a possible prison sentence, a prosecutor responded.

Zhao is currently in the US until at least November 27th. If District Judge Richard Jones decides not to consider the DOJ filing by 5:00 p.m. Pacific time that day, Zhao can return to the UAE but must return to the US by February 10.