CEO of world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange pleads guilty
world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange guilty to money laundering violations on Tuesday to federal charges.
In a coordinated settlement across the federal government, Binance has agreed to pay more than $4 billion in fines and penalties. Zhao, one of the most powerful figures in crypto, has agreed to step down as CEO of the exchange he founded and pay a $200 million fine.
Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, admitted to violating anti-money laundering laws and unlicensed money transmission laws.
A US official called this the largest corporate resolution involving a criminal charge for an executive in history.
Authorities allege Binance allowed bad actors to freely transact on its platform, enabling everything from child sex abuse and narcotics to terrorist financing for ISIS.
Zhao pled guilty to failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program in spite of amassing a fortune estimated at more than $23 billion.
The US hopes that Binance’s guilty plea, along with the recent conviction of FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried, will send a clear message to bad actors in the crypto industry.
As a result of the crimes it committed, Binance became the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange – now it is paying one of the largest corporate penalties in US history,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said.
Zhao faces a maximum of 10 years in prison, though his ultimate sentence is likely to be much lower. Zhao’s maximum possible sentence is likely to be around 18 months under federal guidelines. Sentencing is ultimately decided by a judge.
In addition to the criminal fine, Zhao will pay $150 million in civil penalties, according Futures Trading Commission.