Binance CZ Files Appeal to Return to UAE Despite Flight Risk Worries
Zhao resides in the UAE, which lacks an extradition agreement with the US.
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Changpeng Zhao, the founder of the world’s largest crypto exchange Binance, filed a legal brief yesterday opposing the government’s motion to prevent him from returning home to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) as he awaits sentencing.
Zhao pleaded guilty earlier this week to one count of failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program. The plea was part of a global resolution in which Zhao, Binance, and several US agencies agreed to $4.3 billion in fines and penalties.
“Mr. Zhao presents no risk of flight, having voluntarily come before the Court to accept responsibility and plead guilty, and the government’s motion should be denied,” according to the legal brief.
In the brief, Zhao’s defense team argues he poses no flight risk, citing his voluntary travel to the US to accept responsibility, his lack of criminal history, and the “robust” bail conditions set by the magistrate judge. They also contend his UAE citizenship does not make him a flight risk, pushing back on the government’s emphasis on the lack of an extradition treaty.
This week, Zhao was released on bail pending his sentencing hearing, with the court ordering him to post a substantial personal recognizance bond of $175 million. As a condition, he must appear back in a Seattle courtroom 14 days prior to his February sentencing date.
Zhao has already transferred $15 million to his attorney in the US, while his guarantors put up over $5 million in cash and property.
With sentencing guidelines estimated between 10-18 months, the defense claims there is no incentive for Zhao to flee at this stage after resigning from Binance and entering a guilty plea. They argue he came to resolve the case, not “run.”
A judge will soon rule on whether Zhao can await his fate from his home base in the UAE or must stay grounded on US soil.