With last week’s settlement, legal troubles for Binance’s co-founder and former CEO, Changpeng CZ Zhao, are not over.
In fact, the agreement allows the exchange to continue operating, albeit only outside the U.S. and upon payment of a multi-billion dollar fine, but without CZ.
So the paths of CZ and Binance have parted, with that of the former CEO still having to go through U.S. justice.
The trial for the former CEO of Binance: CZ could go to jail
CZ pleaded guilty, specifically to failing to enforce anti-money laundering regulations.
However, the sentence has not yet been disclosed.
The next step, precisely, is the 24 February hearing before the judge who is to hand down the final sentence and set the punishment.
The speculation circulating is that he will be sentenced to at least one year in prison, maximum one and a half years.
Although the prosecutor will probably ask for a harsher sentence, some experts say he is unlikely to be sentenced to more than 18 months in prison.
Moreover, his lawyers will ask that instead of serving such a short sentence in a minimum-security prison, as it should be, CZ can serve it under house arrest or probation.
It should be specified that the co-founder of Binance is a Canadian citizen, and that the offenses against him by the U.S. courts were largely committed right in the US, that is, against U.S. subjects.
His whereabouts are currently unknown, although it is possible that he is still in the US, where he was until a few days ago to sign the agreement with the Department of Justice.
CZ, through his attorneys, has asked to be allowed to go to the United Arab Emirates (perhaps Dubai or Abu Dhabi) on probation, so much so that this condition would seem to be part of the agreement made with the DoJ.
However, it is not yet certain whether U.S. authorities have granted their permission for a temporary transfer to the UAE.
CZ had to post a $175 million bail in order not to be preemptively incarcerated, promising to be in the US courtroom on 24 February, the day of his hearing with the judge.
It appears, however, that the court is trying to oppose his transfer to the UAE, so it is not certain that CZ will actually make it to Dubai. For now he would apparently still be in the US waiting for permission to be allowed to move there.
Note that he has not tweeted for three days now, probably either because he decided to take off for the weekend or because his lawyers must have advised him to keep a low profile until he gets permission to move to Dubai.
Although at present it seems very likely that CZ will be sentenced, since he has pleaded guilty, it is not yet certain what the sentence will be.
However, while many experts believe that he will be sentenced to a prison term, there are few who seem convinced that he will actually spend it in prison.
Since he appears to have cooperated with the authorities so far, at this point it is likely that he will continue to do so, and this should allow him to have his prison sentence commuted, either to a minimum security prison, house arrest, or probation.
He will not be able to have any major operational roles in Binance, however, since if he were somehow reinstated, his agreement with the DoJ would be blown.
That agreement is the only lifeline for CZ that might allow him to avoid jail time, or avoid having to become a fugitive fugitive.
So his future lies outside Binance.
CZ, however, has already made it known that he will continue to operate in crypto, in a personal way, and specifically in DeFi. So after this period in which he has to finish sorting out his troubles with the law, he will probably return though in a different capacity.
However, it is not certain that his troubles with justice will end when he finishes serving the sentence imposed on him by the U.S. court. In fact, there is still a risk that other jurisdictions, such as Europe, will also come forward to try him.