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Binance, the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange, agreed to pay $4.3 billion to settle criminal charges in the U.S.
This marks it as one of the largest penalties ever obtained from a corporate defendant in the country.
Founder Changpeng Zhao, also known as "CZ," pleaded guilty to charges related to violating the Bank Secrecy Act and causing financial institutions to violate the same act. He agreed to pay a $50 million fine and will step down as CEO, being succeeded by Richard Teng.
The charges against Binance included:
operating without a proper anti-money laundering program
running an unlicensed money-transmitting business
violating sanctions laws
The U.S. Department of Justice, Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) were involved in the settlements. Zhao's fine will be credited against the amount he owes the CFTC.
As part of the settlement, Binance must appoint an independent compliance monitor for three years and report its compliance efforts to the U.S. government. Zhao is barred from any involvement in operating or managing Binance for a period that extends three years after the appointment of the compliance monitor.
The CEO of the world’s largest crypto exchange pleaded guilty to breaking anti-money laundering laws. This is part of a larger trend of criminal activity in the crypto industry and sadly predictable. I urged @TheJusticeDept to investigate Binance for lying to Congress.
The resolution of this case follows closely after the conviction of Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of FTX, another major cryptocurrency exchange. The U.S. authorities have emphasized their commitment to enforcing regulations in the crypto industry, sending a clear message of accountability to other crypto and DeFi companies.
Binance has acknowledged its past mistakes and the company's restructuring efforts. The new CEO, Teng, has expressed his commitment to ensuring the company's financial strength and security, compliance with global regulatory standards, and growth in the Web3 space.
Zhao, on the other hand, has indicated his interest in passive investing and exploring decentralized finance (DeFi) further.
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