Binance ex-CEO to be placed under protective order ahead of rescheduled trial

credit: Shutterstock
credit: Shutterstock

Whilst former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao won’t face trial for money laundering violations until April, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) has been seeking to place him under a protective order. 

Zhao’s original 23 February trial date was pushed back until 30 April and developments following this Federal Court decision has seen the DOJ request a new proposed protective order due to the sensitive information contained in Zhao’s lawsuit. 

It is believed that Zhao and his defence team are not opposed to the protective order, which was filed by DOJ attorneys on 20 February at the Federal Court in Seattle.  

A DOJ court filing read: “The proposed protective order is not disseminated or distributed to anyone other than defence counsel, members of the defence team, and the Defendant,” as per the filing.”

It has been widely believed that the former Binance CEO will face up to 18 months in prison, but DOJ attorneys are angling for a harsher sentence after he and the cryptocurrency exchange were heavily charged for money laundering failures last November

After Binance agreed to a $4.3bn settlement fee, Zhao flew to the US to plead guilty for his involvement, being released on a $175m bond. US authorities imposed penalties on Zhao, such as his immediate resignation from Binance as CEO and a $50m fine. 

Zhao has remained in the US since being bailed out despite he and his defence team’s efforts to be approved to fly back home to his residency in the UAE before the original February trial date. 

This request was denied twice by a US Federal Judge as prosecutors deemed Zhao a flight risk due to the UAE having no extradition deal in place with the US, with prosecutors fearing Zhao would not return back to the US. 

Whilst the defence believes an 18-month jail sentence will be sufficient, prosecutors reportedly believe this is far too low, pushing for Zhao to be sentenced at least 10 years as money laundering failures typically charge offenders for 20 years.