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Canadian Crypto Mogul ‘CZ’ To Stay In U.S. Ahead Of Prison Sentencing

Changpeng Zhao, the billionaire founder of cryptocurrency exchange Binance, has been ordered to remain in the U.S. while he awaits his prison sentencing after pleading guilty to multiple criminal charges that include money laundering.

Zhao, who is a Canadian citizen and commonly known by his initials “CZ,” was released last week on a $175 million U.S. bond and has a sentencing hearing scheduled for Feb. 23, 2024.

Prosecutors requested that Zhao be barred from leaving America before his sentencing because they say he is a flight risk.

Zhao currently lives in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which doesn’t have an extradition treaty with America.

Zhao agreed to step down as chief executive of Binance and pay $4.3 billion U.S. in restitution after pleading guilty to several charges that include failing to implement an effective anti-money laundering program and for willfully violating U.S. economic sanctions.

As part of his plea agreement, Zhao faces a maximum sentence of 18 months in a U.S. prison. However, a judge could give him a lesser sentence in February.

Binance will continue to operate. However, the crypto exchange is now required to maintain and enhance its compliance program to ensure its business is in line with U.S. laws.

Binance must also appoint an independent compliance monitor as part of the agreement made with Zhao.

CZ was raised in Vancouver, British Columbia and earned a computer science degree from McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. His net worth is estimated at $23 billion U.S.

Binance is a privately held company and its stock does not trade on a public exchange.