Binance Founder and Chief Executive Officer Changpeng Zhao agreed to step down from his post and admit to violating U.S. laws and as part of a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice and other authorities to resolve a probe into the practices of the world’s largest crypto exchange.
The company agreed to $4.3 billion in financial penalties, including fines and forfeitures.
Binance was accused of violating finance and money-laundering laws and had been under investigation by U.S. authorities for years.
The settlement was previously reported by The Wall Street Journal.
“Binance became the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange in part because of the crimes it committed – now it is paying one of the largest corporate penalties in U.S. history,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said. “In just the past month, the Justice Department has successfully prosecuted the CEOs of two of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges in two separate criminal cases. The message here should be clear: using new technology to break the law does not make you a disruptor, it makes you a criminal.”
Earlier this month, Sam Bankman-Fried, founder and former CEO of cryptocurrency platform FTX, was found guilty of seven counts, including fraud, conspiracy and money laundering. He faces more than 100 years in prison at sentencing scheduled for March 2024. Bankman-Fried is expected to appeal.
As part of the agreement announced today, Zhao, also known as CZ will be barred from getting involved in any Binance’s businesses in the future. The company accepted the appointment of an independent compliance monitor for its activities for three years.
“Today’s historic penalties and monitorship to ensure compliance with U.S. law and regulations mark a milestone for the virtual currency industry,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said. “Any institution, wherever located, that wants to reap the benefits of the U.S. financial system must also play by the rules that keep us all safe from terrorists, foreign adversaries, and crime or face the consequences.”