United States v. Changpeng Zhao
On November 21, 2023, Binance’s founder and Chief Executive Officer, Changpeng Zhao, pleaded guilty to violating the BSA by causing Binance to violate the BSA by causing Binance to fail to implement an effective anti-money laundering program. Simultaneously, the Department of Justice announced that Binance Holdings Limited (Binance) pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and to fail to register as a money transmitting business, failure to register as a money transmitting business, and violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA). Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, prioritized growth, market share, and profits over compliance with U.S. law in a deliberate and calculated effort to profit from the U.S. market without implementing controls required by U.S. law. Binance agreed to pay $4.3 billion in penalties and will undertake compliance enhancement and remediation and retain an independent monitor. This is the Department’s largest corporate guilty plea that also involves the guilty plea of a Chief Executive Officer. This prosecution was led by the Criminal Division’s Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, the National Security Division and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington.