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Binance's Zhao, Prosecutors Seek 36-Month Sentence

U.S. prosecutors are pushing for a 36-month sentence for the former CEO of Binance, accusing him of money laundering
April 24, 2024

U.S. prosecutors are pushing for a 36-month sentence for the former CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Binance, citing charges of enabling money laundering. According to a sentencing memorandum filed late Tuesday, prosecutors argue that Zhao should receive a sentence above the advisory guidelines to "reflect the gravity of his crimes."

The advisory guidelines suggest a sentencing range of 12 to 18 months in prison for Zhao. However, prosecutors believe a 36-month custodial sentence, twice the high end of the guidelines, would be more appropriate.

Zhao faces accusations of willfully neglecting to implement an effective anti-money laundering program, as required by the Bank Secrecy Act. He is also accused of allowing Binance to process transactions involving proceeds of unlawful activity, including transactions between Americans and individuals in sanctions jurisdictions.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) have separately sued Binance over alleged mishandling of customer assets and operating an illegal, unregistered exchange in the U.S.

The U.S. has ordered Binance to pay $4.3 billion in fines and forfeiture. Zhao agreed to pay a $50 million fine.

Zhao resigned as Binance's CEO in November last year as part of a plea agreement. He was replaced by Richard Teng, the former chief of Abu Dhabi's markets regulator.

Prosecutors described Zhao's actions as violating U.S. law on an "unprecedented scale" and highlighted his "deliberate disregard" for Binance's legal responsibilities. They accused Binance of operating on a "Wild West" model under Zhao's leadership.

Zhao's sentencing is scheduled for April 30.

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