CZ denied travel to UAE despite offering $4.5 billion Binance equity for return

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A US federal judge denied Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, founder and former CEO of crypto exchange Binance, to travel to the United Arab Emirates, despite Zhao offering to post $4.5 billion of his Binance US equity as assurance that he would return.

According to court documents filed this week, CZ’s legal team had requested in December that he be permitted to go to Abu Dhabi so he could be present for the hospitalization and surgery of an unnamed associate.

To guarantee his timely return, CZ proposed providing “significant additional property and financial security,” which included his equity from Binance US valued at $4.5 billion based on its last funding round two years prior.

The request comes after Zhao pleaded guilty late last year to charges concerning Binance’s failure to uphold anti-money laundering standards. As part of the plea deal, Zhao stepped down as CEO and began the process for Binance’s exit from the US market.

The crypto exchange also agreed to pay penalties of $4.3 billion over sanctions and anti-money laundering (AML) violations. Zhao has since been ordered to stay in the US.

Prosecutors argued that Zhao posed a flight risk given his substantial wealth abroad. The prosecution characterized Zhao as a “non-U.S. but UAE citizen” with “minimal ties to the United States, and a residence in a country without an extradition treaty with the United States.”

Binance was established in July 2017 and grew rapidly into the world’s largest crypto exchange by trade volume, with over 173 million users globally. Its fast-moving, global nature had long raised eyebrows over compliance with AML laws.

The company has been the subject of warnings and other enforcement actions by regulators across the globe. Before being criminally charged in the US, Binance had already exited markets like Germany, Netherlands, Cyprus, and Canada, alongside concurrent financial probes into its dealings. 

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