DOJ Seeks Tighter Travel Restrictions for Binance Founder Changpeng Zhao Ahead of Sentencing

News | March 14, 2024 By:

On Friday, March 1, 2024, the Department of Justice (DOJ) doubled down on their request to tighten travel restrictions on Binance founder Changpeng Zhao as he awaits his April 30 sentencing hearing. Prosecutors told a federal court in Washington that they remain concerned Zhao could be a flight risk despite his compliance with previous court orders so far.

Zhao pled guilty last November to failure to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program, bringing an end to the DOJ’s investigation into Binance related to money laundering and sanctions violations. As part of the plea deal, Zhao agreed to step down from Binance and remain in the U.S. pending his sentencing. However, prosecutors now want Zhao to provide three days’ notice before domestic travel and surrender his Canadian passport.

In their court filing, prosecutors acknowledged Zhao has followed the terms of his release but said tighter restrictions were necessary and routine. They argued Zhao’s permanent residence in the United Arab Emirates, a non-extraditable country, and his Canadian citizenship could enable him to flee before sentencing. The government also noted Zhao’s wealth as the founder of cryptocurrency giant Binance.

Zhao’s legal team pushed back, telling the court he has been fully compliant and is in daily contact with his attorneys. Zhao did not object to surrendering his Canadian passport but said one of his security team already holds it. However, prosecutors maintained the modifications were warranted, given orders from the presiding judge.

Earlier in February, the court approved Binance’s $4.3 billion plea deal resolving the money laundering investigation. As both sides prepare for Zhao’s sentencing next month, the latest filing signals the ongoing negotiations around his detention conditions.

Please contact BlockTribune for access to a copy of this filing.