Changpeng Zhao, founder and CEO of Binance, attends the Viva Technology conference on innovation and startups at the Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris on June 16, 2022.
Benoit Tessier | Reuters
The criminal conviction of Binance Money laundering charges against founder Changpeng Zhao have been postponed until April 30, according to a statement from federal court in Seattle on Monday.
That filing did not explain what a two-month delay would mean in sentencing Zhao, a Canadian citizen widely known as “CZ” who has posted a $175 million release bond in the United States.
Zhao’s attorney, William Burck, declined to comment when asked about the postponement. CNBC asked the Justice Department about the delay.
Federal sentencing guidelines call for a maximum sentence of 18 months in prison for Zhao, but prosecutors have reportedly considered seeking a harsher sentence.
Zhao pleaded guilty on Nov. 21 to charges of failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program at Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange. As part of this plea, he agreed to resign as Binance CEO and pay a $50 million fine.
At the same time, Binance agreed to pay $4.3 billion in fines and restitution as part of its guilty plea to conspiring to conduct an unlicensed money transfer business, conducting such a business, and violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.
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“Binance allowed illegal actors to freely transact and facilitated activities ranging from child sexual abuse to illegal drugs to terrorism,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said when the company and Zhao pleaded guilty.
Zhao’s sentencing was originally scheduled for February 23.
The judge in Zhao’s case denied his request in early December to travel to his home in the United Arab Emirates before his sentencing.
U.S. District Judge Richard Jones cited Zhao’s “tremendous wealth” and lack of ties to the United States in finding he posed a flight risk.
Jones rejected another offer from Zhao to travel to the United Arab Emirates in late December. In his new application, Zhao said he wanted to travel home to “hospitalize and operate” on someone in his life.
He had offered to deposit his equity in Binance as security for his return.