US Judge Approves Binance’s $4.3 Billion Plea Agreement – Details

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According to the latest report, Binance Holdings Ltd. will pay one of the largest corporate penalties in United States history after a judge approved the company’s plea agreement. This comes months after the cryptocurrency exchange and its former CEO and founder Changpeng Zhao pleaded guilty to anti-money laundering infringements, bringing a close to a long-term investigation by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and other regulatory bodies.

Binance Accepts Full Responsibility For Its Past Actions: Defense Attorney

In a Seattle court hearing on Friday, February 23, US District Judge Richard Jones approved the plea agreement for the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange. The deal entails Binance’s payment of a $4.3 billion penalty, the appointment of a new CEO, and the institution of a compliance system monitored by an independent firm for five years.

The prosecutors had urged the judge to authorize the plea agreement in a February 16 filing, saying that Binance exposed the country’s financial system to people seeking to “exploit our system for their own gain.” The prosecutors asserted in the document:

In sum, given the nature and seriousness of Binance’s misconduct — it was intentional and led by senior executives, with hundreds of millions of dollars of collateral consequences.

Jones shared his thoughts on the criminal charges leveled against Binance. “This really is a case where the ethics of the company were compromised by greed,” the judge said at the hearing on Friday.

Binance’s deputy general counsel, Josh Eaton, admitted that the cryptocurrency exchange knew it was accountable to the financial laws in the United States. “Despite this knowledge, the defendant made calculated decisions not to follow US laws,” the counsel said.

However, the exchange’s counsel told the judge that Binance has acknowledged its wrongdoings and “accepts full responsibility for its past actions.” Eaton added during the hearing: 

We’re also proud of the compliance enhancements undertaken over the past several years.

CZ’s Sentencing Up Next?

As part of the plea deal, Changpeng Zhao had to step down as Binance’s CEO and agreed to pay a $50 million fine. However, the former executive is awaiting his sentencing trial, which is currently slated for April 30, 2024.

CZ faces a potential jail term up to 18 months under even though prosecutors could push for as long as 10 years. Nevertheless, the co-founder remains free in the United States – albeit with travel restrictions – after securing his bail with a $175 million bond.

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