Binance ex-CEO CZ's sentencing date pushed back; 18-month imprisonment expected
The notice of rescheduled hearing was filed yesterday in a Seattle Federal Court.
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A federal court has rescheduled the criminal sentencing hearing for former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao to April 30. Zhao had previously pleaded guilty to failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program at the cryptocurrency exchange.
The sentencing was originally expected on February 23, with Zhao facing up to 18 months in prison based on initial guidelines and provisions. The notice of rescheduled hearing was filed yesterday in a Seattle Federal Court. Prosecutors note the court could argue for the 10-year maximum sentence under the law.
“The defense claims that Mr. Zhao faces merely a “brief” sentence and has no incentive to flee. The reality is that the top-end of the Guidelines range may be as high as 18 months, and the United States is free to argue for any sentence up to the statutory maximum of ten years,” the filing details.
Zhao stepped down from leading Binance last November as part of a settlement with global regulators over long-running allegations of lax financial crime controls. Binance is now led by Richard Teng, who previously headed its regional markets division.
Zhao remains free on a $175 million bond under a court order to stay within the United States ahead of sentencing. His legal team will likely aim to avoid jail time entirely by pushing for alternative sentencing options like probation or home confinement. However, given the magnitude of Binance’s anti-money laundering violations, the potential for a lengthy sentence still exists.
In recent years, US authorities have aggressively targeted cryptocurrency companies for enabling illicit transactions and sanctions evasion. The collapse of FTX under a criminal fraud investigation last year has further spurred regulatory scrutiny of the digital asset sector. Binance’s agreement to settle for over $4 billion signals that authorities plan to hold crypto founders accountable.
While crypto advocates argue innovations like Bitcoin could transform finance, cases like Zhao’s show real-world adoption still faces critical policy hurdles. Zhao’s looming sentencing will be closely watched for signs of what punishments regulators deem appropriate.