Judge accepts Binance's USD 4.3 billion plea deal

Cryptocurrency exchange Binance has received approval from a US judge to pay USD 4.3 billion for violating anti-money laundering (AML) and sanctions laws

Cryptocurrency exchange Binance has received approval from a US judge to pay USD 4.3 billion for violating anti-money laundering (AML) and sanctions laws. The US judge accepted Binance’s guilty plea and approximately USD 4.3 billion penalty, which includes a USD 1.81 billion criminal fine and USD 2.51 billion of forfeiture.

The announcement followed the government’s proposed changes to Binance founder Changpeng Zhao’s bond, receiving an objection from the latter’s lawyers. The US’ investigation into Binance’s operations Initially, Binance announced in November 2023 that it resolved a probe that found the exchange had failed to report more than 100,000 suspicious transactions. At that time, the exchange’s founder and CEO also pleaded guilty to not maintaining an appropriate AML programme and resigned from the position.

The guilty plea was part of coordinated resolutions with the Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), and the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). The investigation also exposed that Binance prioritised growth and profits over compliance with US regulations since its launch in 2017. Furthermore, Binance was accused of not introducing controls to prevent US users from trading with customers in sanctioned jurisdictions, which led to approximately USD 898 million in trades between US users and individuals in Iran. The company was also set to undergo three years of monitoring to improve its AML and sanctions compliance programmes. In a recent statement, Binance underlined that it accepted responsibility, upgraded its AML and Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures, and made progress toward modifications required under its plea agreement.

The company also intends to further build on its compliance, security, and transparency initiatives. Moreover, the company’s former founder and CEO has been free in the US on a USD 175 million bond after also pleading guilty to money laundering violations. Zhao’s plea included a USD 50 million fine, with the requirement that he step down as Binance's chief executive.

As per a court filing, prosecutors underscored that the proposed changes were meant to reflect orders that Zhao remained in the continental US and under court officer supervision until his April 2024 sentencing. Additionally, the conditions underlined the provision of three days' notice of any travel plans, surrendering his passports, and maintaining his current residence unless he receives approval for a change. Also, pretrial services officers recommend that Zhao be subjected to location monitoring.

At the time of the announcement, Zhao’s lawyers did not respond to requests for comment. .

Feb 27, 2024 12:37
Original link