In a court document filed on Tuesday, April 23, US prosecutors said Binance founder Changpeng Zhao should serve 36 months in prison on charges of violating anti-money laundering (AML) laws. According to the latest reports, Zhao, who resigned as director of the major cryptocurrency exchange last November, will be sentenced on April 30.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, CZ should receive a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison. Zhao and his legal team reportedly would not object to a hearing for that length of time. The Binance founder is currently in the US on $175 million bail.

During the hearing in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, the U.S. attorney said: “Given the extent of Zhao’s willful violation of U.S. law and its consequences, a sentence above the 36-month guidelines is warranted.”

US prosecutors further accused CZ of deliberately playing with US laws. According to them, Zhao and Binance deliberately targeted US users as part of Binance’s expansion strategy. Despite knowing that this approach made Binance subject to US laws, they knowingly allowed the company to operate in violation of those laws for an extended period of time.

Zhao himself acknowledged that ignoring US regulations was crucial to Binance’s growth and profitability. He boasted that complying with U.S. law would have limited Binance’s size and revenue over the past two years, including revenue generated by its network effect, prosecutors noted in the document.

According to US prosecutors, Zhao’s willful violation of US law was not an error or omission. Instead, it was a thoughtful business choice aimed at attracting users, expanding its business and enriching itself.

Prosecutors allege Binance failed to report more than 100,000 suspicious transactions linked to designated terrorist groups such as Hamas, al Qaeda and ISIS, according to US authorities.

In addition, Binance’s platform allegedly facilitated the sale of child sexual abuse material and received a significant portion of ransomware proceeds. As part of the settlement with the SEC, Zhao, also known as CZ, agreed to pay $50 million and distance himself from Binance, which he founded in 2017. Binance was hit with fines, including a $1.81 billion criminal fine and $2.51 billion in restitution.


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