Binance’s CZ in good mood ahead of sentencing

Yi He, co-founder of cryptocurrency giant Binance, has shared a positive outlook on the legal situation of the exchange’s former CEO, Changpeng Zhao. Zhao is currently awaiting a sentencing hearing scheduled for April 30 in the United States.

Speaking at a Binance Chinese community meetup in Dubai, He described Zhao’s current status as “largely peaceful” and noted that past regulatory pressures had been anticipated internally by Binance. She believes that “the existing situation to be the most optimal outcome given the circumstances.”

Last year was particularly tumultuous for Binance, largely due to a prolonged federal investigation into its co-founder and then-CEO, Changpeng Zhao. This investigation culminated in hefty fines totaling billions of dollars and Zhao’s resignation from his CEO position. Zhao also pleaded guilty to charges related to violating anti-money laundering regulations and is currently facing the possibility of prison time.

Amid these upheavals, Yi He remains a key figure within the company. Not only is she one of the largest shareholders, but she also continues to be involved in the company’s leadership and is Zhao’s romantic partner.

Currently, Zhao is on bail in the United States, having posted a $175 million bond. In December, a U.S. Federal Court decision restricted his travel, rejecting his request to visit Dubai due to concerns over him potentially fleeing.

Under federal sentencing guidelines, Zhao could face up to 18 months in prison, although prosecutors have suggested a maximum sentence of 10 years.

In the wake of Zhao’s departure, Binance appointed Richard Teng as its new chief executive officer. Teng, who previously headed Binance Singapore and served as the head of regional markets, took over the global leadership role, signaling a new chapter for the exchange amid ongoing regulatory scrutiny.

A federal judge turned down a request from Binance founder Changpeng “CZ” Zhao to travel to the United Arab Emirates, despite Zhao offering his $4.5 billion Binance equity as a security guarantee.

This was not the first time Zhao’s travel request was denied. Earlier in December, Judge Jones refused another application for travel to the UAE, citing Zhao’s “enormous wealth” and potential flight risk. The judge pointed out Zhao’s substantial overseas assets and lack of ties to the United States, along with his family residing in the UAE, as reasons for the decision.

Zhao’s defense argues that he does not pose a flight risk, as previously determined by Judge Brian Tsuchida, and that the government has not provided adequate grounds for an appeal to overturn this finding. They elaborated on CZ’s visibility as a global public figure and his track record, including a lack of criminal history and the non-violent nature of his offenses, to argue against the necessity of him staying in the U.S. before sentencing.