The most powerful man in crypto has lost his crown – and could see his freedom curtailed as well. In a surprising turn of events, Changpeng Zhao, widely known as the crypto king and Chief Executive Officer of Binance, faces removal from his position amid allegations of crimes in the United States.
Shakeup in the Crypto Realm
Currently, crypto king ousted for US crimes. Changpeng Zhao, often called CZ, has played a pivotal role in the cryptocurrency world, overseeing Binance’s ascent to become one of the largest and most influential crypto exchanges globally. However, recent developments suggest a significant shakeup in the leadership of this crypto giant. On 21 Nov, prosecutors said he stepped down and pleaded guilty to breaking US anti-money laundering laws as part of a $4.3 bn settlement resolving a years-long prove into the world’s largest crypto exchange.
The deal with the Justice Department, part of a large settlement between Binance and other U.S. agencies, resolves criminal charges for conducting an unlicensed money transmitter business, conspiracy and breaching sanctions regulations. It also leaves Zhao’s future uncertain.
“Today, I stepped down as CEO of Binance. Admittedly, it was not easy to let go emotionally. But I know it is the right thing to do. I made mistakes, and I must take responsibility,” Zhao tweeted. He will personally pay $50 million and is barred from all involvement with Binance. U.S. sentencing guidelines call for prison time of 10 to 18 months for the charges he faces. Prosecutors are seeking an 18-month prison sentence, the New York Times reported.
Allegations of US Crimes
The reason why the crypto king ousted for US crimes is linked to allegations of crimes in the United States. The nature of these allegations has not been fully disclosed, creating a cloud of uncertainty around the prominent figure in the crypto community. As investigations unfold, the crypto world awaits more details about the charges and their potential impact on Binance.
“The idea that a five-year-old start-up could mature and operate at the same level as a financial institution that has been around for 200 years was once impossible to fathom,” Zhao wrote in January in a review of the previous year. “But we are nearly there today.”
In that review, Binance hailed its progress in complying with regulations worldwide. It said the exchange had strived through the year to strengthen client checks, developing crypto’s “best security and compliance team.”
Zhao’s public aim to be a part of all that Tuesday’s guilty plea and settlement have dashed. “By failing to comply with U.S. law, Binance made it easy for criminals to move their stolen funds and illicit proceeds on its exchanges,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Tuesday. “Binance also did more than just fail to comply with federal law. It pretended to comply.”
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