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A Stake for a Trip: Judge Denied Changpeng Zhao’s Plea to Travel Abroad

Zhao offered the stake in Binance.US for the permit to leave the US 

In a dramatic twist to the ongoing legal saga, Changpeng Zhao, the former CEO of Binance, attempted an extraordinary measure to secure permission for travel to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Recently unsealed court documents revealed that Zhao, facing legal constraints in the United States, offered his multibillion-dollar stake in Binance.US as collateral. The court filing, dated January 24, disclosed details from a December 22 letter by Zhao's lawyers to Judge Richard Jones.

Zhao's equity in Binance.US, valued at a staggering $4.5 billion from a funding round two years prior, was put forth as a guarantee for his return to the U.S. after a temporary stay in the UAE. His intent was to visit a close associate undergoing surgery, as indicated in the court letter. However, this unique proposal did not sway federal prosecutors, who withheld their consent for Zhao's travel plans.

Legal constraints tighten on Zhao amidst guilty plea

Changpeng Zhao's legal entanglements tightened as Judge Richard Jones denied his travel request in a December 29 closed-door hearing. This decision came in the wake of Zhao pleading guilty to money laundering charges on November 21. Currently on a $175 million bond in the United States, Zhao faces a potential prison sentence of up to 18 months and has agreed not to appeal any sentence of this length.

The complexity of Zhao's situation is further underscored by the partial redactions in the unsealed letter, which conceal sensitive personal details. Judge Jones, citing Zhao's “enormous wealth and property abroad,” had previously restricted his travel, deeming the risk of flight too significant if he returned to the UAE. As a result, Zhao is mandated to remain in the U.S. until his February 23 sentencing.

Zhao, once a prominent figure on social media platforms, has retreated from public view since his last post in early December 2023. 

CZ BNB (@cz_binance): 

“Appreciate the support. But will try to stay off twitter for a while.” 


 

His resignation as Binance’s CEO in November 2022 followed a $4.3 billion settlement with U.S. regulators, marking a significant turn in his career and the regulatory landscape of cryptocurrency.