A federal judge accepted Binance founder Changpang “CZ” Zhao’s guilty plea to money laundering, but hasn’t decided if he can leave the United States before his February sentencing date.
In a Dec. 6 filing to a Seattle District Court, Judge Richard Jones said he accepted Zhao’s guilty plea to one count of Bank Secrecy Act violations, which he submitted over two weeks ago on Nov. 21 alongside his exchange’s $4.3 billion settlement with the U.S.
As part of the settlement deal, Zhao agreed to step down as CEO of Binance and paid $150 million to regulators.
Zhao is set to be sentenced on Feb. 23 next year and faces up to 18 months in prison. He’s currently released on a $175 million bond, which would allow him to return to the United Arab Emirates where he resides.
Federal prosecutors have objected to allowing Zhao to leave the U.S. saying they “would not be able to secure his return” if he decided not to come back to the U.S. as the UAE has no extradition treaty and Zhao could live there on his wealth
“He has three young children and a partner in the UAE; once in the UAE and faced with the prospect of traveling back to the United States to face up to 18 months in prison, he may elect to instead simply stay in the UAE with his family,” prosecutors said.