The former boss of Binance will learn his fate this Tuesday, having agreed to plead guilty to violating US laws against money laundering. Itinerary of this fallen star of cryptocurrencies.

The former emblematic boss of Binance, Changpeng Zhao, who must be determined on his fate by American justice on Tuesday in Seattle, joins the list of fallen stars of cryptocurrencies, of which he had founded the largest exchange platform in the world.

CZ, his nickname, agreed in November to plead guilty to violating US anti-money laundering laws. The agreement reached with the American authorities provided for Binance to pay $4.4 billion in penalties and the resignation of its general manager.

“I made mistakes and I must take responsibility for them,” he wrote on X in November, when leaving his post.

“CZ withdrew (…) taking responsibility for the mistakes we made in the past,” Richard Teng, the new boss of Binance, told AFP in early April.

His fall follows that of two other star cryptocurrency entrepreneurs: the American Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of FTX, sentenced at the end of March in New York to 25 years in prison, a sanction which he appealed, and Do Kwon, founder South Korean of the Terra cryptocurrency, arrested in March 2023 in Montenegro and awaiting extradition to South Korea.

McDonald’s et poker

Born in China in 1977, Changpeng Zhao moved with his family to Canada in the late 1980s and obtained Canadian citizenship. In several interviews, he insists on his humble beginnings, claiming to have been a cook at McDonald’s and a gas station attendant, thereby cultivating his image as a “self-made man”.

After studying computer science in Montreal, CZ worked in Tokyo and New York before returning to China for a while. He claims to have heard about cryptocurrencies for the first time in Shanghai around a poker table in 2013.

Four years later, he founded Binance in the same city. The company experiences record growth and becomes the largest virtual currency exchange in the world. As of early April, Binance claimed nearly 185 million users.

Known for his outspokenness on At the end of 2023, his fortune had melted to 15 billion, after the collapse of the cryptocurrency market, before rebounding at the start of 2024. In mid-April, Forbes estimated his capital at around 33 billion dollars.

CZ cultivates a relaxed style and wears in most of his interventions a black polo shirt with the Binance logo, which he also had tattooed on his right arm.

No global headquarters for Binance

Binance’s success is leading to increased scrutiny of its operations by authorities, as cryptocurrency companies around the world begin to face a wave of criminal investigations.

The United States accuses Changpeng Zhao and his company of multiple violations, including money laundering and knowingly authorizing transactions with the Islamic State organization, or in countries under American sanctions, such as North Korea and the ‘Iran.

Furthermore, the fact that the company does not have a global headquarters, despite offices open in Paris, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Bahrain, already questioned several regulators. In July 2023, several senior Binance executives left the ship, as legal investigations targeting it multiplied around the world.

Pending his verdict, in March he announced a new project: “Giggle Academy”, an educational platform using video game codes and intended to make education free for all children. On the Giggle Academy website, he describes the initiative as “the most impactful thing I can do for the next chapter of my life.”


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