Changpeng Zhao, the CEO of Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, has stepped down and pleaded guilty to violating U.S. anti-money-laundering requirements. This landmark deal, totaling $4.3 billion, aims to resolve criminal and civil allegations against Binance, shedding light on the company’s past practices and its future trajectory.

Read more: Overview of Binance and CZ Sued by CFTC

Changpeng Zhao’s Admission in Seattle Federal Court

Changpeng Zhao, commonly known as CZ, made a pivotal appearance in a Seattle federal court, where he pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to Binance’s facilitation of transactions with sanctioned groups. The exchange encouraged U.S. users to conceal their locations, thus violating anti-money-laundering laws. Zhao’s admission comes with a heavy price tag, including a $50 million criminal fine.


Binance’s Penance: $4.3 Billion Settlement

Binance has agreed to pay fines totaling $4.3 billion, encompassing both criminal and civil penalties. The company acknowledged its historical lack of compliance controls but sees this settlement as a watershed moment, signifying a commitment to responsibility. Despite the hefty penalty, Binance retains its majority ownership, but Zhao is barred from an executive role.

Immediate Fallout on Binance Coin and Bitcoin

The repercussions of this deal resonated in the cryptocurrency market, with Binance Coin witnessing a 5.3% drop to $242. Meanwhile, Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency, experienced a 1.5% decline. These fluctuations underscore the interconnectedness of the crypto ecosystem and its vulnerability to regulatory developments.

Richard Teng, who stepped into the role of Binance’s new CEO, said about his new assignment the following:

From 2018 Oversight Gaps to Millions in Transactions

The investigations revealed that Binance, aware of millions of U.S. users since 2018, failed to establish a program detecting money laundering or violations of sanctions laws. Transactions valued at $899 million between Americans and users in Iran transpired between January 2018 and May 2022. Zhao’s nonchalant approach, expressed in a 2019 chat, underscores the challenges faced by crypto platforms.


The outcome draws parallels to BitMEX, as Binance navigated protracted negotiations with the Justice Department. Zhao’s hiring of a new lead attorney, William A. Burck, reflected the company’s commitment to resolving legal challenges. The deal, however, doesn’t conclude with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), leaving a potential avenue for further legal battles.

The ex-pharmaceutical tycoon and infamous “Pharma Bro” Martin Shkreli, who completed four years of a seven-year sentence for fraud, playfully hinted that he’d vouch for CZ.


As the dust settles on Binance’s tumultuous journey, the cryptocurrency industry is left to ponder the lasting impact of this watershed moment. The $4.3 billion settlement serves as a stark reminder that, even in the world of decentralized finance, compliance with regulatory frameworks is non-negotiable.

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Changpeng Zhao’s guilty plea signals a pivotal chapter for Binance, urging other crypto exchanges to reassess their practices.


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