Founder and former CEO of Binance, Changpeng Zhao, announced his replacement today as the Department of Justice held a press conference announcing significant cryptocurrency enforcement actions against his company.
Binance makes a “complete exit”
Zhao has pleaded guilty to “willfully violating the Bank Secrecy Act, knowingly failing to register as a money transmitting business, and willfully violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Moreover, Binance must pay $4.3 billion in penalties and forfeitures as well as partake in a fiver year-long monitorship while following reporting requirements set forth by the Department of Justice.
“This is one of the largest penalties we have ever obtained from a corporate defendant in a criminal matter,” said Garland.
Binance must also make a “complete exit” from the U.S. market as part of their settlement.
“The United States has laws and everyone, including cryptocurrency markets, must follow them,” Garland said.
Zhao announces his replacement
The Justice Department’s announcement concludes a grueling five-year-long investigation into the world’s largest crypto exchange.
“I made mistakes, and I must take responsibility,” Zhao wrote in an announcement posted on X Tuesday afternoon. “This is best for our community, for Binance, and for myself.”
Richard Teng, former Head of Regional Markets for Binance, will take over as CEO. Previously, he served as CEO of the Financial Services Regulatory Authority at Abu Dhabi Global Market and Director of Corporate Finance with the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
“He will ensure Binance delivers on our next phase of security, transparency, compliance, and growth,” wrote Zhao.
A network of illicit affairs
A press release from the U.S. Department of the Treasury alleges Binance failed to prevent and report transactions involving Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades, Al Qaeda, ISIS, money launderers, and ransomware attackers.
“By failing to comply with AML and sanctions obligations, Binance enabled a range of illicit actors to transact freely on the platform,” the press release read in part.
“Let me be clear: we’re also sending a message to the virtual currency more broadly today and for the future,” said Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. “If virtual currency exchanges and financial technology firms wish to realize the tremendous benefits of being part of the US financial system and serving US customers, they must play by the rules.”
As for Zhao, the former Binance CEO announced he would take a brief break before potentially mentoring “a small number of upcoming entrepreneurs, privately.”
“If for nothing else,” wrote Zhao, “I can at least tell them what not to do.”
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