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Binance founder, Zhao, sentenced to jail in US



In another high-profile case, Changpeng Zhao, founder of cryptocurrency firm Binance has been sentenced to four months in US prison after pleading guilty to money laundering charges.

Zhao, a Canadian is the most high-profile crypto personae to be jailed since Sam Bankman-Fried was sentenced to 25 years jail term.

It would be recalled that Zhao resigned from his post at the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange platform late last year as part of a deal with US authorities.

According to investigations by two Treasury agencies, Binance failed to prevent transactions by movements such as the Islamic State group, al-Qaeda or the armed wing of Hamas.

Zhao pleaded guilty to violating US anti-money laundering laws and Binance agreed in February to pay $4.3 billion to settle charges.

Prosecutors had asked the judge to impose three years behind bars for a crime that typically results in probation, according to a court filing.

“He made a business decision that violating US law was the best way to attract users, build his company, and line his pockets,” Justice Department lawyers said of Zhao in a sentencing memorandum.

READ ALSO:Binance Executive nabbed in Kenya after escape from Nigeria

“The sentence in this case will not just send a message to Zhao but also to the world.”

Attorneys for Zhao countered in a filing that being punished with probation is just, appropriate, and in line with legal precedent.

They cited Zhao’s acceptance of responsibility along with what they called his philanthropic track record.

“I made mistakes, and I must take responsibility,” Zhao, who lives in the United Arab Emirates, said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, in November.

He has been in the United States since that time.

Binance was created in 2017 and cornered much of the crypto-trading market, turning its founder and chief executive Zhao into a billionaire.

While Binance was founded in China, Zhao moved its operations to other locations internationally after a crackdown on the crypto sector by Beijing.

Also in Nigeria, two of the company’s top executives, are also being prosecuted for tax evasion and money laundering charges.

Tigran Gambaryan, a U.S. citizen and Binance’s head of financial crime compliance, and Nadeem Anjarwalla, a British-Kenyan who is Binance’s regional manager for Africa, were being detained on the orders of the court.

However, Anjarwalla escaped from custody and fled to Kenya.

By: Babajide Okeowo

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