The former crypto star will learn the length of his prison sentence this Tuesday as part of an agreement between Binance and the American authorities at the end of last year.

Will the former boss of the Binance cryptocurrency platform, Changpeng Zhao, end up behind bars? In any case, this is what American prosecutors are hoping for, who have requested a prison sentence for money laundering against him, while the judgment is expected this Tuesday. A Canadian citizen, Changpeng Zhao announced at the end of last year that he was leaving his post at the head of Binance, a decision which was above all the consequence of an agreement signed with the American authorities.

According to the investigation carried out by two agencies under the Treasury Department, Binance had not put in place the necessary measures to prevent transactions carried out for the benefit of groups such as the Islamic State, al Qaeda or the armed wing of Palestinian Hamas . Prosecuted, Changpeng Zhao eventually pleaded guilty to violating anti-money laundering laws and Binance agreed to pay $4.3 billion to end the case against the company.

Prosecutors now hope, according to online court documents, that the judge in charge of the case will give Changpeng Zhao a three-year prison sentence and a fine of $50 million, for a type of crime that most often gives the right to a suspended sentence.

“He believed that violating US law was the best way to attract users, build his business and line his pockets, it is a business decision”, justified the Department of Justice in the documents filed, to justify this request, “the conviction in this case will not only be a message to Mr. Zhao but to the whole world.”

“I made mistakes”

For the lawyers of the former king of cryptocurrencies, a suspended sentence is on the contrary “just, appropriate and consistent” in view of the case law. They ask that their client’s recognition of the facts, as well as his philanthropic activities in the past, be taken into account.

“I made mistakes, I accept the consequences,” Changpeng Zhao said in a tweet in November.

Binance was established in 2017 and quickly became the world’s number one cryptocurrency exchange, making its founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao a billionaire.

If the company was created in China, Changpeng Zhao moved the headquarters to different countries after Beijing wanted to reduce the share of the cryptocurrency sector in its economy. The platform allows you to buy and sell cryptocurrencies but also offers other services, all over the world; However, it suffered enormously from the fall of the market in 2022, but also from investigations by regulators looking into the legality of the market.

This highly volatile industry boomed in 2021, thanks to the proliferation of complex products and validation by celebrities from around the world, leading it to reach a valuation of $3,000 billion in 2022.

But a series of scandals, including the fall in November 2022 of Binance’s main competitor, FTX, and the prosecution of several managers of this company, has significantly eroded confidence and led to a massive withdrawal of investors from the cryptocurrency market.

The latter, however, have experienced a strong rebound in recent months, largely thanks to the approval by American regulators of exchange-traded funds based on bitcoin, which allows investors to trade these assets without creating specific account on dedicated platforms.


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