U.S. Department of Justice May Seek 10-Year Prison Term for Binance’s CZ Following Guilty Plea

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has disclosed its intent to potentially argue for a 10-year prison sentence for ChangPeng Zhao (CZ), the founder of Binance, who recently pleaded guilty to violating the Bank Secrecy Act. This revelation comes as part of the aftermath of a massive global criminal enterprise orchestrated by Binance, resulting in a record $4.3 billion fine. Despite expectations of a 12–18-month sentence, the DOJ’s latest court filing indicates a shift in their stance, emphasizing the possibility of a lengthier term for CZ. The DOJ is also expressing discontent over CZ’s allowed travel to the UAE, emphasizing the severity of the charges and the need for stringent restrictions.

DOJ’s Intention to Argue for 10-Year Sentence

The recent DOJ court filing on a Saturday night not only reiterated the restriction on CZ’s travel until sentencing but also explicitly stated the government’s potential argument for a 10-year prison term. The filing emphasized that, while the defense suggests a “brief” sentence, the top end of the Guidelines range allows for up to 18 months, and the U.S. has the freedom to propose a sentence up to the statutory maximum of ten years. The DOJ contends that CZ’s family ties and lack of previous custody experience don’t diminish the significance of the penalties he could face.

DOJ’s Discontent with CZ’s Travel Allowance

DOJ lawyers expressed surprise and dissatisfaction over Magistrate Judge Brian Tsuchida’s decision to allow CZ to live in the UAE until two weeks before his sentencing. They argue that, in most cases, a billionaire defendant with a guilty plea, facing potential prison time, and residing in a non-extraditing country, would at least be detained and restricted from leaving the U.S. The DOJ emphasizes the interconnectedness of CZ and Binance, presenting them as alter egos, and underscores the gravity of the crimes committed.

Looking Ahead to Sentencing

While CZ’s sentence won’t be known until the scheduled hearing on February 23, 2024, the DOJ may have the opportunity to restrict CZ’s travel before that. The DOJ’s discontent with the current arrangements raises questions about CZ’s potential flight risk and the need for more stringent measures. The outcome of this case is crucial not only for CZ but also for setting a precedent in deterring money laundering activities within the cryptocurrency space.

Note: The content of this article is based on recent DOJ filings and developments in the legal proceedings.

Compilation of Court Documents Involving DOJ, Binance, and CZ (Arranged Chronologically):

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