Changpeng Zhao, also known as “CZ,” has resigned as CEO of Binance following a $4.3 billion settlement with the Department of Justice. This settlement results from Zhao’s guilty plea to federal criminal charges, including violations of the Bank Secrecy Act. These violations involved failing to implement an effective anti-money-laundering program and deliberately violating U.S. economic sanctions.
As part of the settlement, Binance is required to enhance its compliance program to meet U.S. anti-money-laundering standards and appoint an independent compliance monitor. The company, which started in 2017, will continue operating but under new regulations. Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, has agreed to forfeit .5 billion to the government and pay a fine of .8 billion.
Zhao, who admitted to making mistakes and taking responsibility for them, announced that Richard Teng, Binance’s former global head of regional markets, would succeed him as CEO. This change in leadership comes as Binance, despite being a dominant force in the crypto world, faces increased regulatory scrutiny, including a recent decision by the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority to bar its U.K. unit from operating in the country.
Binance Holdings Ltd., commonly known as Binance, is a prominent global entity operating the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by daily trading volume. Established in 2017 by Changpeng Zhao, a developer with a background in high-frequency trading software, Binance initially operated in China before relocating to Japan and later to Malta, currently functioning without an official headquarters.
In 2021, Binance faced investigations from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service over money laundering and tax-related allegations. The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority also directed the cessation of its regulated activities in the UK that year. Furthermore, Binance provided client information to the Russian government.
As of November 21, 2023, Binance admitted guilt on federal charges related to anti-money laundering, unlicensed money transmitting, and sanction violations, agreeing to pay fines exceeding $4 billion.