• Thu. May 30th, 2024

Prosecutor Demands 36-Month Imprisonment for Changpeng Zhao, the Ex-Binance Boss

Maria Bartiromo

ByMaria Bartiromo

Apr 25, 2024

The United States federal prosecutors are seeking a 36-month prison sentence for Changpeng Zhao, the former CEO of Binance, over money laundering charges. This request has raised eyebrows within the legal community, as sentencing guidelines for such cases usually suggest a prison term between 12 and 18 months.

The prosecutors’ move to seek a longer sentence has sparked debate about the appropriateness of the punishment and the potential implications for the broader cryptocurrency industry. However, his rapid success was met with increased regulatory scrutiny, leading to allegations of money laundering and other financial crimes.

Binance made significant illicit earnings by allegedly facilitating unlawful monetary transactions and breaking Anti-Money Laundering  (AML) laws. The prosecution contends that Zhao’s alleged crimes significantly impacted the public’s confidence in cryptocurrencies and the financial system. The prosecutor pressed that his actions were particularly troubling because of his significant impact as the head of a cryptocurrency exchange.

Prosecutor Pushes for Harder Sentence, As Defense Contemplate an Appeal 

An analyst with Business Times, Jerry Lin, stresses the importance of sending a clear message about financial crime, especially in the quickly developing cryptocurrency space where existing regulatory frameworks frequently slack.

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Zhao’s defense team will probably contest the prosecutors’ request, claiming that considering Zhao’s cooperation with the police and his status as a first-time offender, the suggested 36-month sentence is excessive. The defense team also mentions that prisoners in comparable cases have not been imprisoned, arguing that Zhao is unfairly singled out because of his strong relevance in the Bitcoin space.

Lin presumes that the defense would contend that the suggested sentence will discourage innovators in the cryptocurrency space from taking chances in the successfully evolving digital economy.

While Zhao’s defense team is anticipated to contest the suggested sentence, citing mitigating circumstances and the possible impact on the more significant cryptocurrency sector, prosecutors will likely highlight the necessity of a severe penalty to discourage financial crime.

Defense Applies Leniency, As More Evidence Against Zhoa Emerge

Prosecutor also presses that relatively mild punishment would imply that the legal system is still working through the challenges of regulating cryptocurrencies, which could cause sector participants to remain uneasy. The lawyers had termed Zhoa a “first-time offender” while seeking leniency. The claim was linked to his total acceptance of responsibility.

The listed responsibility includes the acceptable $50 million criminal litigation and allied conditions. His lawyers also stressed that Zhao transformed Binance Exchange into an industry leader and has always complied with regulatory laws.

A memorandum that made it to the public scene stated that Zhao had boasted that he would scale through should he get caught. In the statement, he added that should he be indicted, the legal consequences would be lesser than the actual crime. Meanwhile, Zhao’s legal counsel is seeking leniency from the court, appealing for a probation rather than a prison sentence.

The memorandum also stated that Binance exchange operated a rogue business model under Zhao’s management – accusing him of intentionally allowing criminals to use the platform and letting over 100 thousand illegal transactions scale through the platform.

Zhao Gets $50 Million Fine, May Not Proceed With Appeal 

In separate events, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have sued Binance for allegedly mishandling its customer’s assets and operating an unregistered and illegal cryptocurrency exchange in the United States.

Binance was found guilty of all allegations and agreed to a $4.32 billion fine as a criminal penalty and $2.51 billion as restitution. The ex-Binance boss was also made to pay $50 million in another fine to the United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Zhao has agreed not to appeal his sentence according to federal guidelines and has remained free with a $175 million bond. The ex-Binance boss’s official sentencing is slated for April 30 and will presided over by Richard Jones, the United States District Judge.

Maria Bartiromo

Maria Bartiromo

Maria Bartiromo is a renowned news writer and journalist, celebrated for her insightful reporting and authoritative voice. With a career spanning years, she has established herself as a trusted source of accurate and comprehensive news analysis, keeping readers informed on vital global developments.

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