Amid fines in excess of $4 billion, Binance pleads guilty to money laundering

 November 22, 2023

Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, is expected to pay over $4 billion in fines to settle criminal charges and must make a "complete exit" from the United States following legal troubles.

Binance's founder, Changpeng Zhao, pleaded guilty to money-laundering charges and agreed to step down and pay a $50 million fine, as The Epoch Times reported.

Following an investigation that spanned several years into the workings of the cryptocurrency exchange, Binance and Zhao reached an agreement to engage into a plea bargain with a number of federal authorities in the United States.

These agencies include the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of the Treasury.

The Deal

As part of the comprehensive settlement, Binance agreed to plead guilty to the criminal accusations against it and pay penalties totaling over $4 billion as part of the accord.

According to a court filing, the cryptocurrency exchange platform was charged with three counts, one of which was money laundering, another was conspiracy to conduct an unregistered money transmission company, and the third was violations of United States sanctions.

Zhao, who on Tuesday went in court in Seattle, Washington, to plead guilty for failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering policy at Binance, decided to stand down as the CEO of the firm. His departure comes after he appeared in court to accept responsibility for his actions.

Binance has been fined a total of $4.3 billion, and it has also committed to hire an independent compliance monitor for three years and improve its anti-money laundering and sanctions compliance systems during that time.

According to the Treasury Department, Binance broke the law by failing to detect and report suspected transactions involving terrorist organizations including as Hamas' Al-Qassam Brigades, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Al Qaeda, and ISIS.

Statements On the Deal

"Today, I stepped down as CEO of Binance. Admittedly, it was not easy to let go emotionally. But I know it is the right thing to do. I made mistakes, and I must take responsibility," Zhao said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), Binance has agreed to pay a criminal fine of $1.8 billion in addition to forfeiting $2.5 billion as part of the plea deal.

“Binance became the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange in part because of the crimes it committed—now it's paying one of the largest corporate penalties in U.S. history,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement.

“Binance turned a blind eye to its legal obligations in the pursuit of profit,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a press release. “Its willful failures allowed money to flow to terrorists, cybercriminals, and child abusers through its platform.”

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