Binance’s Changpeng Zhao pleads guilty to violating money laundering rules, comments on resignation
CZ will pay a $50 million fine; he likely faces up to 18 months in prison.
Zhao reportedly entered his guilty plea in federal court in Seattle today and agreed to pay a $50 million fine as part of the plea deal. That fine is separate from Binance’s $4.3 billion investigation resolution with the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Prosecutors within the DOJ told the newspaper that they are seeking an 18-month prison sentence for Zhao, in line with maximum federal guidelines. Other sources indicate that Zhao could face up to 10 years in prison.
Zhao comments on his resignation
Zhao’s plea deal also required him to step down from his leadership position at Binance. He commented on his departure in a post on X today, writing:
“Today, I stepped down as CEO of Binance. Admittedly, it was not easy to let go emotionally. But I know it is the right thing to do. I made mistakes, and I must take responsibility. This is best for our community, for Binance, and for myself.”
Zhao suggested that he plans to become a private, passive investor in areas including blockchain, but said that he will remain involved with Binance and will be available for consultation as needed. He also implied that he will remain a Binance shareholder.
The New York Times, however, suggests that Zhao is barred from involvement in Binance for three years after the company receives an appointed monitor.
Zhao additionally said that Binance’s now former Global Head of Regional Markets, Richard Teng, will become the CEO of the company. He emphasized Teng’s longstanding experience in traditional financial markets, noting that Teng served in executive roles at Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), the Singapore Exchange (SGX), and the Monetary Authority of Singapore before he joined Binance.
Teng confirmed that he would take on the position in a separate tweet, stating that it is with “honour and with the deepest humility” that he takes on the role of CEO.
Zhao also commented on Binance’s recent agreement with the Department of Justice (DOJ), noting that the resolution does not allege that Binance misappropriated user funds or engaged in any market manipulation.