Former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao Faces Potential 10-Year Sentence

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  • Prosecutors might argue that Changpeng Zhao faces up to 10 years in prison.
  • Despite Zhao’s voluntary appearance in the U.S., the court deems him a manageable flight risk.
  • The former chief of the SEC Office of Internet Enforcement stated that Zhao enabled a range of illicit actors to use Binance freely.

A recent filing in the legal case against the former CEO of Binance, Changpeng Zhao, revealed that Zhao could face a substantial prison sentence of up to 10 years.

On November 24, the prosecutors claimed that Zhao voluntarily appeared in the U.S. to face justice. The court stated that Zhao was allowed to remain free until his sentencing. The decision failed because the court “believed Mr. Zhao presented no flight risk.”

Contrary to the perception that the court had no concerns about Zhao being a flight risk, the filing clarified that “Zhao presented a flight risk that could be managed.” According to the filing, requiring Zhao to remain in the U.S. and preventing him from returning to the “safe haven of the UAE” until sentencing is a reasonable restriction. 

Despite the defense’s assertion that Zhao lacks the motivation to flee given the prospect of a brief sentence, the plaintiff claims that the U.S. is free to argue for a longer sentence. An excerpt from the filing stated:

The reality is that the top-end of the Guidelines range may be as high as 18 months, and the United States is free to argue for any sentence up to the statutory maximum of ten years.

John Reed Stark, former chief of the SEC Office of Internet Enforcement, said that Zhao could take some action to “blow up his plea arrangement.” He added that Zhao might not cooperate and violate his plea conditions.

Furthermore, Stark characterized Zhao’s alleged crimes as ”tantamount to mass murder and mayhem.” He added that Zhao enabled a range of illicit actors to use Binance freely by failing to comply with anti-money laundering regulations. Many crypto community members disagreed with Stark’s words and stated that the Department of Justice doesn’t prosecute “big bank executives” as they did with Zhao.

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