JAN 2, 2024
Changpeng Zhao denied second request to travel to UAE before sentencing
Former Binance CEO, Changpeng Zhao (CZ), facing criminal charges and awaiting sentencing in the United States, has been denied his request to return to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by a U.S. federal judge, according to Bloomberg.
The decision, rendered by the U.S. District Judge Richard Jones, reinforces the restrictions on CZ's movements in the months leading up to his scheduled February sentencing. In a filing on Friday, Judge Jones rejected CZ's motion seeking permission to travel to the UAE, where his children reside with former talk-show host and Binance co-founder, Yi He.
The specific grounds for the denial were sealed, providing limited insight into CZ's argument against the judge's repeated constraints. However, CZ's legal team hinted that the motion involved "medical information regarding Mr. Zhao’s child."
Second travel request denial
This ruling, dated Dec. 29, marks the second time CZ's request to travel to the UAE has been turned down. Earlier in the month, Judge Jones sided with U.S. prosecutors, citing CZ's substantial wealth abroad and the absence of an extradition treaty between the U.S. and the UAE, making him a potential flight risk.
CZ had previously pleaded guilty to violating the Bank Secrecy Act and resigned as CEO of Binance, the world's largest digital asset exchange. Binance, as an entity, reached a $4.3 billion settlement related to sanctions and money transmission violations. Singaporean Richard Teng, Binance’s former head of regional markets, has been installed as CEO in CZ’s place.
Despite legal challenges, Zhao secured release on a $175 million personal recognizance bond after pleading guilty. The billionaire posted $15 million from a trust account and had three guarantors pledge over $5 million in collateral to secure the bond. The court order allows CZ to remain free, but he is prohibited from leaving the U.S. until his sentencing.
40 million new users
It’s not all bad news for Zhao’s Binance. In a recent report titled "State of The Blockchain: Binance’s 2023 in Review," Binance highlighted its significant growth in 2023, welcoming over 40 million new users — a 30% increase from the previous year. The report emphasizes the company's commitment to user-centric principles, boasting 170 million registered users and 431 assets available for trading across 1,785 trading pairs by the year's end.
Key achievements outlined in the report include robust growth in crypto payment services, P2P trading and earning platforms. Binance Pay and Card experienced a 54% surge in users and the P2P platform recorded an 18% increase in trades and a 39% rise in users.
Binance Earn, a crucial component of Binance's product suite, saw a 35% increase in users and a 16.8% rise in the total value locked within its products.
Higher net worth
2023 hasn’t been all bad for CZ on a personal basis either. His wealth has seen a substantial increase of approximately $25 billion in 2023 despite the legal turmoil. His $37 billion net worth primarily stems from his controlling stake in Binance.
Despite potential imprisonment, CZ stands atop the list of cryptocurrency entrepreneurs whose fortunes have witnessed substantial growth this year, ranking 35th in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.