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Binance Founder CZ Starts Four-Months Sentence in California Prison

Binance’s billionaire founder Changpeng Zhao, commonly known as CZ, has begun serving a four-month sentence in a low-security federal prison in Lompoc, California, following his guilty plea to charges of enabling money laundering at his crypto exchange.

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The sentence is notably shorter than the three years federal prosecutors sought, as the defense had requested probation. Sentencing guidelines recommended 12 to 18 months.

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Binance agreed to a $4.32 billion penalty, and Zhao paid a $50 million criminal fine plus $50 million to the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

During the sentencing in Seattle, Judge Richard Jones disagreed with the DOJ’s request for a three-year sentence, citing a lack of evidence that Zhao was aware of the illegal activities at Binance.

The DOJ argued that Binance only enforced stricter compliance after being caught, dismissing the defense’s plea for probation.

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Expressing remorse, Zhao told the court that he takes full responsibility for his mistakes. In his own words, CZ “failed to implement an adequate anti-money laundering program.”

In the beginning of May, Zhao returned to X to express his gratitude for the support he gained from the community. After serving the sentence, CZ plans to move on from crypto business and focus on educational projects, he noted.

In November, Zhao reached a settlement with the U.S. government to end a multiyear investigation into Binance. As part of the deal, Zhao stepped down as CEO of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange.

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