Binance Founder Changpeng Zhao Pleads Guilty to Money Laundering Violations

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Changpeng Zhao will pay a $50 million fine and step down as chief executive of the company he created, the latest blow to the crypto world since the implosion of FTX last year.

Changpeng Zhao, the founder of Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, agreed to plead guilty to money laundering violations, according to court papers made public on Tuesday, a stunning blow to the most powerful and influential figure in the global crypto industry.

Binance itself also agreed to plead guilty and pay $4.3 billion in fines and restitution, according to the documents, filed in federal court in Seattle.

As part of his guilty plea, Mr. Zhao agreed to pay a $50 million fine and will also step down from his role as chief executive of the company. Binance, as part of its plea deal with federal prosecutors, will accept appointment of a monitor, and Mr. Zhao is barred from any involvement in Binance’s business until three years after the monitor is appointed.

The court papers, which are dated Nov. 20, said that criminal charging documents were filed by federal prosecutors against both Binance and Mr. Zhao on Nov. 14. Mr. Zhao’s lawyers could not be reached for comment.

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