Binance's Changpeng 'CZ' Zhao Is a Manageable Flight Risk: U.S. DOJ

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) argues that Binance's former CEO should remain free until sentencing – but only in the U.S.

AccessTimeIconNov 27, 2023 at 5:08 a.m. UTC
Updated Jan 26, 2024 at 3:07 p.m. UTC
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The U.S. Department of Justice doesn't want Changpeng 'CZ' Zhao locked up until sentencing, but it doesn't want him to leave the United States either, arguing in a new filing that he's a "flight risk that could be managed."

Late last week, CZ's counsel argued that the very fact he – a non-U.S. citizen holding UAE and Canadian passports – voluntarily entered the U.S. to appear before a court represents that he's not a flight risk.

"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," last week's filing said.

But U.S. Attorneys pushed back on that, arguing that the potential severity of the sentence would give Zhao incentive to flee back to the UAE, which has no extradition treaty with the U.S. Last week, prosecutors said Zhao, as a citizen of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), had "minimal ties to the U.S." and may not return should he be allowed to leave.

"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 filing reads. "The penalties he faces at sentencing will no doubt seem significant to him, and that weighs in favor of the reasonable restrictions the United States proposes."

On Tuesday, Zhao pleaded guilty for breaking anti-money laundering laws in the U.S. and stepped down as Binance's CEO. The exchange, meanwhile, pleading guilty to multiple criminal and civil charges, while agreeing to pay $4.3 billion in penalties, among the largest corporate fines in the history of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Fellow former exchange executive Sam Bankman-Fried, who is also awaiting sentencing, remains in custody.

Edited by Omkar Godbole.

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