Former Binance CEO’s Lawyers Urge U.S. Judge to Reject Ban on Returning to UAE
**Zhao’s Legal Team Pushes Back**
Lawyers for former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao are urging a U.S. judge to reject the Justice Department’s request to bar him from returning to his home in the United Arab Emirates until he is sentenced for violating anti-money laundering requirements.
**Fight Over Bail Conditions**
Zhao’s lawyers filed a document on Thursday, asking U.S. District Judge Richard Jones in Seattle not to reverse bail conditions set by a magistrate judge on Tuesday that would allow him to leave the U.S. while awaiting sentencing. Zhao, a citizen of the UAE and Canada, stepped down as CEO of Binance on Tuesday after pleading guilty to willfully causing the global cryptocurrency exchange to fail to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program.
**Plea Deal and Legal Battle**
U.S. authorities said Binance broke U.S. anti-money laundering and sanctions laws and failed to report more than 100,000 suspicious transactions with organizations the U.S. described as terrorist groups including Hamas, al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The company as part of a plea deal agreed to pay more than $4.3 billion. Zhao has agreed to pay a $150 million penalty to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and prosecutors in a Wednesday filing said he faces up to 18 months in prison.
The Justice Department has asked Jones to reverse a decision by U.S. Magistrate Judge Brian Tsuchida to allow Zhao to return home to the UAE ahead of his Feb. 23 sentencing after he agreed to release him on a $175 million bail bond. The government said it may be unable to secure his return if he chooses not to come back to the U.S. for sentencing, given that it has no extradition treaty with the UAE and Zhao is a multi-billionaire with significant assets.
**Defense Team’s Arguments**
Zhao’s lawyers argued that he was not a flight risk and said allowing him to return to the UAE would enable him to take care of his partner and three children. Additionally, they clarified that he voluntarily came to the U.S. to accept responsibility for his actions.
**Justice Department’s Response**
The Justice Department responded, stating that it believed the risk of flight he posed could be “managed” by restricting his travel. However, they emphasized that, in most cases, a defendant with Zhao’s circumstances would be detained and highlighted the exceptional nature of their recommendation for his release.
In conclusion, the legal battle over whether Zhao should be allowed to return to his home in the UAE while awaiting sentencing continues to unfold, with both sides presenting compelling arguments as the case moves forward.