It is a red letter week for the cryptocurrency world as Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, and its CEO, Changpeng Zhao, pleaded guilty to US anti-money-laundering and sanctions violations yesterday.
Mr Zhao, on Tuesday, pleaded guilty to a count of failure to maintain an effective anti-money-laundering system in a Federal Court sitting in Seattle, facing a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.
The plea follows the agreement of the company to pay the US government over $4.3 billion in fines and fees, according to the US Treasury Department on Tuesday.
Binance has made the all-time largest settlement to the US Treasury Department via the FinCEN (Financial Crimes Enforcement Network) and the OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) – $3.4 billion to FinCEN and $968 million to OFAC.
Richard Teng Announced New Binance CEO
Yesterday, Zhao also stepped down from his position as CEO and will pay fines worth $200 million as part of the settlement.
“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. This is best for our community, for Binance, and for myself.
Binance is no longer a baby. It is time for me to let it walk and run. I know Binance will continue to grow and excel with the deep bench it has,” said the ex-CEO on X (formerly Twitter).
Following his resignation, he announced Richard Teng, former Global Head of Regional Markets, as the new CEO of the company.
Richard had held some enviable executive positions before Binance – Chief Regulatory Officer of the Singapore Exchange (SGX) and CEO of the Financial Regulatory Authority at Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM).
As for the former CEO himself, he will remain available for consultancy when needed and plans to take some time to cool off, invest in blockchain, AI, and biotech companies, and tend more to DeFi.
BNB, BTC, and ETH Down Amidst Binance’s Guilty Plea
Some of the major cryptocurrency tokens seem to be affected by the brunt of the recent outcomes of Mr Zhao’s and Binance’s legal battle.
As of this writing, at 5:38 AM UTC, Binance Coin (BNB) is down 10% at $237. Bitcoin is down over 2% at $36,470, while Ethereum is down 1.42% at $1,990. It is a normal occurrence in the crypto space when adverse news hits the scene, and prices may shoot up when the news abates.
Zhao believes his successor, Teng, is a highly qualified leader and will “navigate the company” through its next growth period. “He will ensure Binance delivers on our next phase of security, transparency, compliance, and growth,” stated Zhao.