Binance Founder Zhao denied US exit a second time

credit: Shutterstock
credit: Shutterstock

Changpeng Zhao, the Founder and former CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Binance has once again been denied his request to leave the US. 

A US Federal Judge ruled late last week that Zhao is prohibited from leaving the country to return to his residency in the UAE. Prosecutors deemed him a flight risk due to the Middle Eastern country not having an extradition treaty in place with the US. 

Although the second ruling  did not disclose Zhao’s argument, the defence had outlined that he poses no flight risk as his ties with the US are limited. The defence also cited that Zhao voluntarily travelled to the country to admit guilt of the charges placed on him in the first attempt of trying to return home. 

District Judge Richard Jones, of the Western District of Washington, stated in the first ruling last December: “The defendant has articulated justifications that in most cases would cause the government’s motion to be denied. 

“However, a critical feature of the government’s motion is the extent of the defendant’s enormous wealth and absence of an extradition treaty with the UAE. In addition, the defendant’s family resides in the UAE and there is no indication he has any other ties to the US. 

“While the defendant has indicated he will be asking for a lesser sentence, the government has indicated it may be asking for as much as 18 months of incarceration. Consequently, the defendant is not facing an insignificant sentence.”

Zhao will likely remain in the US for his impending 23 February trial where he is charged with breaking the country’s money laundering laws after it was found he and Binance broke the Commodity and Futures Trading Commission’s Bank Secrecy Act. 

Binance agreed to a record $4.3bn settlement fee last November for the violations, along with Zhao agreeing to settle with a $50m fee and subsequently resigning as CEO where he is forbidden to be involved in any Binance activity for the next three years.