In a recent development, Binance founder, Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, has been ordered by a federal judge to remain in the United States until his sentencing in February. The judge raised concerns about the potential flight risk if Zhao were to return to the United Arab Emirates.

Judicial Decision Delays Zhao’s Return

Seattle district court Judge Richard Jones, on December 7, mandated that Zhao must stay in the U.S. until his sentencing on February 23, 2024. The judge expressed apprehensions about Zhao’s significant wealth and ties abroad. He further emphasized the lack of strong connections to the United States.

Federal prosecutors had earlier argued that Zhao’s return to the UAE could jeopardize his presence during the sentencing. They went ahead to cite his wealth and family ties abroad. Judge Jones concurred with these concerns, stating,

“The defendant has enormous wealth and property abroad, and no ties to the United States.”

The United States flag

Zhao’s Plea and Bond Conditions

Zhao had pleaded guilty to money laundering on November 21, facing a potential sentence of up to 18 months in prison. As part of his plea, he agreed not to appeal any sentence within that range. Despite the guilty plea, concerns about Zhao’s return prompted the court to impose travel restrictions.

Currently on a $175 million bond, Zhao’s assets are seemingly beyond the government’s immediate reach. Judge Jones also noted that the bond conditions, including the ability for Zhao to travel within the U.S. and receive family visits, were not overly restrictive.

Background: Binance Settlement and Zhao’s Resignation

Notably, in November, Binance, along with Zhao, settled with U.S. regulators for $4.3 billion. The settlement acknowledged the operation of an unlicensed money-transmitting business and violations of the Bank Secrecy Act. As part of the agreement, Zhao stepped down as the CEO of Binance.

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