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Binance Founder Pleads Guilty in Anti-Money Laundering Violation

Brian Levin | 11.28.2023

Disgraced Crypto CEO Agrees to $4 Billion Settlement

According to the Department of Justice, Binance founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao, has pleaded guilty to multiple charges and has stepped down from the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange. The announcement comes after Zhao faced federal charges related to the violation of anti-money laundering and sanctions laws. The Binance founder has agreed to a penalty of over $4 billion. 

The national securities and cryptocurrency law firm, Levin Law, P.A. (“Levin Law''), is investigating claims related to crypto investors who have sustained financial losses. The cryptocurrency industry continues to be plagued by fraud, with some investors losing millions. Aggrieved investors are strongly encouraged to contact Levin Law by calling (305) 402-9050 or emailing Levin Law founder and managing attorney Brian Levin at

Who Is the Binance Founder?

Canadian national Changpeng Zhao is the chief executive officer and founder of Binance Holdings Limited (“Binance”). In a short amount of time and under the leadership of Zhao, rose to become the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange. 

As reported by CNN, Zhao’s estimated fortune exceeds $23 billion. He founded the company in 2017. Over the past year, the company and its founder have come under scrutiny. Numerous investigations were launched by regulators including one by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). The SEC alleged that the company was in violation of several regulations and that Zhao commingled customer assets. 

What Is Changpeng Zhao Accused Of?

A press release issued on Tuesday, November 21, 2023, by the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) indicates that Zhao was under investigation for several federal violations, including non-compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) and the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (“IEEPA”). The DOJ also alleged that the founder failed to register Binance as a money-transmitting business.

Zhao entered a guilty plea for failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering (AML) program and operating as an unlicensed money-transmitting business. The plea included an agreement to pay over $4 billion in penalties and fees. In addition, Zhao agreed to step down as CEO of the cryptocurrency platform and to pay a fine of $50 million plus $150 million in civil penalties. The billionaire could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison but will likely receive a much more lenient punishment, as reported by CNN. 

What’s Next for the Cryptocurrency Industry?

Zhao is the second crypto founder to face criminal charges. Sam Bankman-Fried was convicted earlier this month of a multi-billion dollar fraud scheme, according to Reuters. The FTX founder faced multiple charges related to fraud and conspiracy. During the trial, it was alleged that the billionaire fraudulently secured $8 billion from FTX users. Sentencing in the case is set for March 28, 2024. 

Other cryptocurrency platforms and companies have faced similar challenges, with several going bankrupt over the past two years. The future is unclear for the digital currency that took the world by storm. The Justice Department notes that their recent prosecutions should serve as a stark warning that “using new technology to break the law does not make you a disruptor, it makes you a criminal.” 

Contact Levin Law for a Free Case Evaluation

If you have lost money related to cryptocurrency fraud, contact Levin Law to schedule a free case evaluation. Aggrieved investors are encouraged to call (305) 402-9050 or email Most cases are handled on a contingency fee basis, meaning clients are not obligated to pay Levin Law attorney fees unless money is recovered on their behalf. 

​​About Levin Law

Levin Law is a premier national cryptocurrency, securities, commodities, futures, and class action law firm. Brian Levin, Levin Law’s founding attorney, has helped recover in excess of $150,000,000 through arbitration and litigation for individual and institutional investors throughout the country and the rest of the world. Levin Law represents retirees, individual investors, high-net-worth investors, ultra-high-net-worth investors, institutions, family offices, trusts, publicly held companies, and others.

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