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Changpeng Zhao Sentenced to 4 Months in Prison, Becomes the World’s Wealthiest Prisoner

CZ is now the wealthiest individual to serve time in U.S. federal prison, as he retains ownership of Binance and an estimated personal fortune of $43 billion.

  • Former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) has been sentenced to four months in prison for violating U.S. money-laundering laws, significantly less than the three years prosecutors sought.
  • In an apology before his sentencing, CZ expressed regret for not prioritizing compliance at Binance and took full responsibility for his actions.

The crypto cannot go a single day without Binance making a headline. From former CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) getting arrested and Binance getting banned in some countries to Binance executives getting detained in Nigeria, the crypto exchange has had its fair share of controversies over the last several months. 

In a last event, on Tuesday, CZ was sentenced to four months in prison after pleading guilty to violating U.S. anti-money laundering (AML) laws at Binance. District Judge Richard Jones in Seattle issued the sentence, rejecting prosecutors' request for the 47-year-old Zhao to serve a three-year term.

Before his sentencing on April 30, CZ wrote a heartfelt apology letter for forgiveness.

“I apologize for my poor decision and take full responsibility for my actions. In hindsight, I should have focused on Binance’s compliance changes from the beginning, but I didn’t. It is my fault for not establishing the necessary compliance measures to regulate Binance, and I have nothing to say about it. I hope I can change this part of Binance’s history.” 

In the letter, he also mentioned that Binance grew unexpectedly and quickly and it took a lot of work to manage the company. 

Additionally, CZ said he doesn’t like leaving questions unanswered. Which is why he chose to take responsibility by surrendering voluntarily in this case, resolve the matter in court, and begin anew.

After Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF), who was sentenced to 25 years in March, CZ is now the second major crypto leader to be sentenced to prison. In November, CZ pleaded guilty to not following required AML rules and resigned. His company, Binance, agreed to pay $4.3 billion to settle related charges.

In terms of trades in violation of U.S. sanctions, ALJazaeera states that Binance allowed more than 1.5 million virtual currency trades, totaling nearly $900m, that violated U.S. sanctions, including ones involving Hamas’s Qassam Brigades, al-Qaeda, and Iran.

Also, according to Bloomberg, CZ will become the wealthiest individual to serve time in U.S. federal prison, as he retains ownership of Binance and an estimated personal fortune of $43 billion.


Edited by Harshajit Sarmah

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