The US Department of Justice (DOJ) is remaining insistent that former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao not leave the US before he stands trial for his involvement in breaking money laundering laws.
Whilst DOJ officials have also stated that they do not want Zhao in prison before his sentencing, they are also aiming to block any potential travel to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), where he resides.
If Zhao were to touchdown in the UAE, the DOJ fears this would only complicate matters more as the Middle Eastern country does not have an extradition policy set up with the US.
This is in response to recent comments made by the Binance Founder’s defence team, who argue Zhao poses no flight risk as he voluntarily travelled to Seattle to admit he and Binance broke several money laundering and regulation laws last week.
Binance agreed a $4.3bn settlement, with Zhao also being fined $50m for breaking Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) regulations and the US Bank Secrecy Act.
Zhao admitted to the charges placed against him and was released from custody on a $175m bond, and now his defence team is trying to cooperate with prosecutors to let him leave the US.
A court filing read: “Based on all the relevant facts, including Mr. Zhao’s voluntary self-surrender, his intent to resolve this case, and the sizable bail package he proposed, Judge Tsuchida found that Mr. Zhao presents no risk of flight, even while residing in the UAE.”
However, despite Judge Tsuchida acknowledging that Zhao turning himself in is “compelling”, DOJ officials argued that due to his “minimal ties to the US”, he may have no incentive to return to the US.
A court filing read: “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.
“The penalties he faces at sentencing will no doubt seem significant to him, and that weighs in favour of the reasonable restrictions the United States proposes.”
The sentence date is currently scheduled for 23 February, 2024 and the ex-Binance CEO could face up to 18 months in prison.