Binance CEO plans to step down, pay $4.3B, plead guilty: report

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By Dan Sears

The founder and CEO of Binance plans to step down and plead guilty to violating criminal anti-money laundering requirements, The Wall Street Journal reported, resolving a years-long investigation into the world’s largest crypto exchange.

The deal also call for Changpeng Zhao’s Binance to pay fines totaling $4.3 billion, which includes amounts to settle civil allegations made by regulators, the Journal reported. He will appear in Seattle federal court Tuesday afternoon to enter his plea.

On Monday, Bloomberg reported that the Justice Department was seeking $4 billion from the firm.

Binance has been under Justice Department’s scrutiny since at least 2018, just one of a string of legal and regulatory headaches it faces in the US.

Federal prosecutors asked the company in December 2020 to provide internal records about its anti-money laundering efforts, along with communications involving Zhao.

Reuters could not immediately verify the report.

Lawyers for Zhao and Binance, as well as a company spokesperson, did not immediately respond to calls for comment.

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Binance CEO Zhao Changpeng
CEO Changpeng Zhao agreed to step down, according to a report.

A spokesperson for the DOJ declined to comment. The CFTC and Treasury Department did not respond to requests for comment.

The CFTC in March filed civil charges against Binance, alleging it failed to implement an effective anti-money laundering program required of financial institutions “to detect and prevent terrorist financing or other criminal activity.”

Binance logo
Binance has been under Justice Department’s scrutiny since at least 2018.

At the time, Zhao said the CFTC’s “complaint appears to contain an incomplete recitation of facts, and we do not agree with the characterization of many of the issues alleged.”

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