U.S. prosecutors are contesting the decision allowing former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao to leave the country, citing concerns about his potential flight risk.
The move comes after Zhao admitted to lapses in Binance’s Anti-Money Laundering program.
Prosecutors filed a request on November 22 to a federal court, urging a review of a judge’s decision permitting Zhao to return to the UAE on a $175 million bond, with the condition of returning to the U.S. two weeks before his scheduled February 2024 sentencing.
Prosecutors assert that allowing Zhao to leave the U.S. poses an “unacceptable risk of flight and nonappearance.”
They express doubts about ensuring his return voluntarily.
The case hinges on Zhao’s strong ties to the UAE and the absence of an extradition treaty with the U.S. Prosecutors highlight Zhao’s family in the UAE, suggesting he may opt to stay there instead of facing potential U.S. imprisonment for up to 18 months.
Additionally, prosecutors argue that most of Zhao’s wealth, securing the $175 million bond, lies beyond U.S. jurisdiction.
This legal maneuvering raises questions about the enforceability of the bond conditions and the potential hurdles in repatriating Zhao if he chooses not to return willingly.
Zhao’s admission to AML program failures led to his resignation and a $50 million fine.
Despite the setback, experts view the Justice Department’s settlement with Binance positively, considering it a step towards legitimising the cryptocurrency industry in the U.S.
The rebound of crypto markets to pre-Binance news levels, with a total market capitalization of $1.48 trillion during the Thursday Asian trading session, indicates resilience amidst regulatory challenges.