Binance Founder CZ Sentenced to Four Months in Prison

Binance and sanctions, arrest, crisis, blocking concept. Binance crypto exchange mobile app and steel chains, prohibition and restriction symbol. Astana, Kazakhstan 13.02.2023.
  • Binance founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao has been sentenced to four months in a detention centre in Seattle.
  • The trial concluded after several months, with CZ pleading guilty to banking violations in November last year.
  • Prosecutors intended to make an example of CZ, suggesting he should serve three years behind bars due to the severity of his crimes.
  • The case came after a lengthy probe unveiled several cybercriminals and terrorists using Binance to launder their cash flow.

The ongoing Binance saga may finally be drawing to a close, with founder Changpeng Zhao (CZ) officially sentenced to four months in prison. The decision concludes a lengthy investigation from the US Justice Department into CZ’s banking violations as head of the world’s largest crypto exchange. 

Related: DTCC Declares No Collateral Value for BTC ETFs in Groundbreaking Decision

Prosecutors Seeking Three Years Prison Sent Packing

The trial focussed on how CZ’s mismanagement of Binance allowed several terrorist organisations and cybercriminals to use the platform as a means of funding. CZ pleaded guilty to these charges back in November, with prosecutors arguing that the Binance head should spend up to three years behind bars due to his actions.

What’s interesting about the prosecutor’s request is that previous instances of CEOs committing banking violations had rarely been punished by jail time at all. The Justice Department intended to turn CZ into something of a scapegoat, amid increasing tensions between regulators, governments and the crypto industry. Regardless of precedence, US District Judge Richard Jones suggested that this particular case was unique due to the sheer volume of money being funnelled to bad actors around the world. 


Ultimately, Judge Jones deemed four months behind bars in Seattle an appropriate sentencing for CZ, given the weight of money laundering that occurred. In fact, some have argued this ruling was particularly lenient due to the Binance CEO’s reputation as a “good guy”. CZ’s case was filled with glowing letters of support from customers, colleagues and family which suggested the businessman was not a crook – like Sam Bankman-Fried – but rather an upstanding citizen who made an error of judgement.

To be honest with you, sir, everything I see about your history and characteristics are of a mitigating nature.

District Judge Richard Jones

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In his first public statement since the sentencing, CZ was pensive but cautiously optimistic. 

Ben Knight

Ben Knight

Ben Knight is a writer and editor from Melbourne with a passion for all things music and finance. He enjoys turning complex topics – especially the technical details of cryptocurrency – into digestible bites that anybody can understand. He acquired his Master’s in Writing, Editing and Publishing from RMIT in 2019 and has run his own creative writing business ever since.

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