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Binance founder Changpeng Zhao begins his prison sentence in California

binance-founder-changpeng-zhao-begins-prison-sentence
Edited by
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Binance founder Changpeng Zhao begins his prison sentence in California

Binance founder Changpeng Zhao has reportedly arrived at a low-security federal prison in Lompoc, California, to begin his four-month sentence.

The news was confirmed by his legal team from Latham and Watkins, according to CNBC. EljaBoom, a well-known blockchain influencer and crypto investor, also shared the update on X.

Referring to Zhao as his “friend,” Boom stated that the former Binance CEO had started his prison sentence in a low-security federal prison in Lompoc, California. “Low security means prisoners have more freedom because they are not considered dangerous and are trusted not to escape,” he added.

Zhao, often referred to as “CZ” in crypto circles, was sentenced to four months in prison in April after pleading guilty to charges that Binance violated U.S. anti-money laundering laws.

Following his guilty plea, U.S. authorities demanded Zhao step down as CEO of Binance. Under his leadership, Binance had grown to become one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges by volume.

Prosecutors claim part of this growth was due to Binance processing transactions involving proceeds from illegal activities.

They also accused the crypto exchange of facilitating transactions between U.S. users and individuals in countries under U.S. sanctions, such as Iran, which the government views as threats to national security. Despite stepping down, Zhao still reportedly holds a significant stake in Binance, estimated at 90%.

The four-month sentence handed to Zhao was notably less than the 12 to 18 months recommended by federal sentencing guidelines and way below the three years initially recommended by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Zhao’s attorneys had argued for probation instead, highlighting that no one in a similar case under the Bank Secrecy Act had been sentenced to prison.

As part of the legal resolution, Binance was ordered to pay $4.3 billion in fines and forfeiture. Zhao personally agreed to a $50 million fine.

After his sentencing, Zhao outlined his plans for the future, stating that he intends to return to the crypto industry after serving his sentence and focus on maintaining his existing crypto holdings and engaging in passive investing.

Furthermore, he emphasized that the period following his guilty plea marked “a new stage for the crypto industry,” stressing the importance of players in the space adhering to regulations and compliance.