Dec 8, 2023

A federal judge ruled Thursday night that Changpeng "CZ" Zhao, who is the founder and former CEO of Binance, cannot return to the United Arab Emirates before his sentencing.

Video transcript

The State of crypto is presented by Tron connecting the world to the power of Cryptocurrency. There's a new legal wrinkle for Binance founder Chen Peng Zhao after pleading guilty to one charge of violating the Bank Secrecy Act last month. Joining us now to discuss this coin desk, global policy and regulation, managing editor Nick Day, who's also the editor of coin desks. State of crypto newsletter. Nick. Good morning, good morning. Happy Friday. Happy Friday to you, Laurence says he's having a Happy Friday. It's just a great day all around. Not a great day for CZ though last night, we learned that he is going to have to remain in the United States. Talk to us about the latest developments. Yeah. So yesterday, Federal Judge Richard Jones from the US district court for the western district of Washington, Ie Seattle uh ruled that CZ cannot return to the United Arab Emirates before sentencing in February on the charge that you mentioned. Uh basically saying that, you know, while he, you know, understands that you can't stop someone from leaving the country just because they're not a citizen or whatever. Uh C's situation is unique and he does find that there is a credible concern from the US government here. So cz facing, you know, 10 to 18 months in prison, uh, must now stay in the US until February 23rd, 2024 when he will be sentenced, ah, to be sure he's not incarcerated. He could walk out to the corner store, buy a bagel and Snapple and, and go about his day. Correct. Right. US government has not looked for, you know, they have not uh you know, tried to put them in jail or anything and they acknowledge that they're not trying to put them in jail. Uh unless CZ does something, you know, radic these trains. But yeah, so just he, yeah, he's uh he's able to go anywhere in the contiguous United States. So uh you know, if he wants to road trip down to Florida, he could do that. Um He just can't leave the country so you can't go to Canada, can't go to Alaska, can't go to me, you know where? Yeah, can't go to Hawaii or Puerto Rico. Right. What's the point of being here then? I mean, all right, all, all the best places including Canada. There he is. He's can't go uh Nick originally, he was going to be allowed to go back to the UAE. He would have to return 14 days before sentencing. What changed? What convinced the judge to stay this request from the government. Yeah. So the original bond was overseen by a magistrate judge who allowed that condition. Um Basically, you know, the first hearing that happened last month was in front of this magistrate judge who I basically set up these bond conditions allowed the, as you mentioned CZ to return and return 14 days prior to sentencing. Um The US government objected uh in a set of filings where they basically argued that because of the resources that CZ has because of the fact that he's a citizen of the UAE uh because that, you know, even after he pays a potential 50 million fine, he's still going to have access to vast amounts of resources and that he could easily cover his guarantors on, you know, sureties uh and the BP and escrow, um he's still, you know, doj called him a significant flight risk. The defense obviously argued that that's not the case that he was absolutely gonna come back. You know, because of the fact that he came back to the US, you know, came to the US to plead guilty just to begin with a sign that he was going to, you know, take responsibility, he was not going to become at risk. But in the end, it looks like the federal judge who is, you know, more senior to the magistrate judge uh decided he found the DOJ R is compelling enough that he is, he would require easy to stay here. Did uh his family come in from the UAE? Nothing on Well, no word on that. Um, one of the defense arguments was that, you know, his family could not relocate for just a couple of months. Um, we'll see what happens next, you know, have to visit or whatever. I imagine. We're probably not gonna get a huge amount of insight on that from the court filings. Uh, just because, you know, it's uh not totally relevant to how the, the case itself is gonna unfold. I mean, it looks like you'll be living in the US for some time. So, yeah, at least until February and then after that, uh, you know, presumably whatever you guys, he'll have to serve that out. And then, um, you know, yeah, after that, he'll probably be, he will presumably be able to return to wherever he wants. All right. Well, Nick, we're gonna leave it there. We'll wait and see what happens next. Thanks for joining the show this morning and have a good weekend.

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