U.S. Seeks to Block Former Binance CEO CZ From Leaving Country Amid Flight Risk Concerns

Binance's Zhao Ordered to Stay in US Amid Flight Risk Until February Sentencing

Key Insights

  • U.S. prosecutors seek to block ex-Binance CEO CZ from leaving country amid flight risk worries
  • Government voiced concerns CZ’s ties abroad mean he may not return for Feb 2024 sentencing after guilty plea
  • Prosecutors argue CZ poses “unacceptable risk of flight and nonappearance” with wealth overseas if allowed to leave US

SEATTLE — U.S. prosecutors are pushing to prevent Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, founder of cryptocurrency giant Binance, from returning home to Dubai on bail by voicing urgent concerns the former executive may not come back to face criminal sentencing after negotiating a guilty plea deal with the Department of Justice.

In Seattle federal court filings Tuesday, the government argued the $175 million bond allowing Zhao to possibly leave the country before his scheduled February 2024 hearing posed an “unacceptable risk of flight and nonappearance.”

Prosecutors Lobby to Cancel CZ's $175M Bond Over Serious Flight Risk Worries
Excerpt of the motion to review Zhao’s bond conditions. Source: PACER

Prosecutors pointed to Zhao’s extensive ties with the United Arab Emirates, which lacks an extradition agreement with America, as reason to mandate keeping him on U.S. soil. They contended Zhao’s wealth and family abroad increased chances of fleeing versus traveling back to serve up to 18 months in prison.

The urgent motion comes just one day after Zhao resigned as Binance CEO, agreeing to pay $1.5 billion in fines and plead guilty to failing Binance’s anti-money laundering duties. U.S. authorities inked a separate $4 billion settlement with the company itself.

While many hailed Binance’s admission of guilt as legitimizing crypto, Zhao’s ongoing legal limbo suggests more uncertainty around repercussions for one of the industry’s most influential leaders.

For now, prosecutors indicated that if allowed to leave, they lack confidence the Justice Department “would be able to secure his return” for facing judgement on American soil. And so they aim to cancel Zhao’s bond and force him staying put.

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