In a recent legal development, Changpeng Zhao (CZ), the former CEO of Binance, was denied permission to leave the United States, despite offering his entire stake in Binance.US, valued at $4.5 billion, as security. This decision came to light through court documents that were unsealed, revealing Zhao’s failed attempt to secure temporary travel approval to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Zhao’s request was part of a larger legal struggle following his guilty plea to charges of money laundering in November, for which he is currently on a $175 million bond in the US. The court documents disclosed that Zhao sought to travel to the UAE for up to four weeks in early January to visit a friend or family member undergoing surgery. However, federal prosecutors did not consent to this request, leading to Judge Richard Jones’ decision to deny the travel proposal during a closed-door hearing on December 29.
This denial underscores the complexities Zhao faces due to his legal entanglements and the severity with which the US judiciary is handling his case. Judge Jones had previously restricted Zhao’s travel as part of his bond conditions, citing Zhao’s “enormous wealth and property abroad” as significant factors that could incentivize him to flee.
Zhao’s legal troubles have been mounting since he stepped down as CEO of Binance in November 2023. This resignation was part of a $4.3 billion settlement with US regulators, where Zhao admitted to operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business and breaching the Bank Secrecy Act. The ongoing legal proceedings and Zhao’s attempts to navigate them highlight the ongoing scrutiny and regulatory challenges faced by major players in the cryptocurrency industry.
This situation also reflects the broader context of increasing regulatory oversight within the crypto space, particularly in the United States, where authorities are taking a more assertive stance on compliance and enforcement. As the legal proceedings continue, the crypto community and regulators alike are keenly observing the outcomes and their implications for the industry’s regulatory landscape.