The verdict in Changpeng Zhao’s court battle with the United States government will be delayed, according to a notice filed in a Seattle court.
CZ, who pleaded guilty to violations of AML procedures, was allowed to remain out of custody until his sentencing in exchange for a bail bond of $175 million. A further $15 million was deposited into a trust account to be confiscated in case the terms of his bail were breached.
Zhao was also required to pay a fine of $50 million, while the exchange he previously ran suffered a fine of $4.3 billion. He has since stepped down as CEO.
Two Month Delay
Binance’s former CEO was originally supposed to face the court’s verdict later this month.
However, the court’s deliberation will only come to an end on the 30th of April. A document informing the public of the postponed sentencing was published on the 12th of February, according to CNBC. Zhao’s lawyer also declined to comment on the matter due to privacy concerns.
Unfortunately for CZ, this decision will also keep him apart from his family, who resides in Dubai, for a while longer. Binance’s former CEO had previously requested permission to travel there, citing the hospitalization and approaching surgery of a family member. Although he offered the entirety of his equity in Binance as a guarantee that he would return to the U.S., the request was still turned down.
“The defense claims that Mr. Zhao faces merely a “brief” sentence and has no incentive to flee. The reality is that the top-end of the Guidelines range may be as high as 18 months, and the United States is free to argue for any sentence up to the statutory maximum of ten years.”
Prosecution May Argue for Harsher Sentencing
Harsher punishments have reportedly been argued for by the prosecution. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen also commented on the sentencing, accusing CZ of allowing some of the worst criminals around to flout sanctions.
“Binance was allowing illicit actors to transact freely, supporting activities from CSAM to illegal narcotics to terrorism.”
However, the defense has argued that Binance’s faults in the AML department were simply due to oversight and a lack of prioritization.
The exchange also has a good track record when it comes to assisting law enforcement with tracking down cybercriminals attempting to use Binance’s services, often freezing funds before being asked to.
Coupled with the fact that Zhao willfully entered a plea deal and has cooperated with the authorities to the best of his abilities, it’s unlikely that the prosecution’s wishes will be granted. In fact, jail time may still be avoided altogether if the defense plays its cards right.