US court approves settlement against Binance, firm to pay $2.7B to CFTC

Former Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao has been ordered to pay $150 million, while Binance will pay $2.7 billion to conclude the CFTC enforcement action.

A United States court has entered an order against crypto exchange Binance and its former CEO, Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, that will see Binance pay $2.7 billion and CZ pay $150 million to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

In a Dec. 18 statement, the CFTC announced that the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois had approved the previously announced settlement and concluded the enforcement action first issued by the CFTC in November. 

“The court finds Zhao and Binance violated the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) and CFTC regulations, imposes a $150 million civil monetary penalty personally against Zhao, and requires Binance to disgorge $1.35 billion of ill-gotten transaction fees and pay a $1.35 billion penalty to the CFTC,” wrote the CFTC in a statement. 

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Philippines SEC begins Binance ban countdown

The head of the Philippines SEC clarified that Binance and any other unregistered exchange issued with an advisory has three months before they are banned from the country.

The Philippines Securities and Exchange Commission head Kelvin Lee clarified in a panel on Dec. 13 that a ban on Binance would come into effect three months after its advisory was issued.

According to a report from local news BitPinas, Lee said there has been a lot of confusion on the internet about the ban after regulators issued an advisory to the cryptocurrency exchange for operating without a license on Nov. 28.

He was asked to clarify the matter and that the ban was “supposed to be three months from the issuance date,” which he said was given on Nov. 29.

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SEC wants Binance guilt admission added to own case

Binance said the SEC hasn’t demonstrated that the resolutions reached with the DOJ are pertinent to the regulator’s “faulty claims” against Binance Holdings and former CEO Changpeng Zhao.

Binance Holdings and its former CEO, Changpeng Zhao, have reacted to a move by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to include Binance’s admission of guilt to the Department of Justice (DOJ) in its own legal proceedings.

In a Dec. 12 filing submitted to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Binance insisted the SEC’s attempt to include the $4.3 billion guilty plea and settlement agreement with the DOJ in the continuing case was procedurally incorrect and should not be allowed.

The ongoing Binance-SEC legal case began on June 5, 2023, when the agency accused the company of 13 securities law violations, including that Zhao and Binance managed customer assets on Binance.US and mixed or redirected customer assets.

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CZ must stay, Do Kwon to be extradited: Law Decoded

A Seattle district court ruled out CZ’s departure to the UAE, and the Montenegrin justice minister plans to grant the United States request for Do Kwon’s extradition.

Binance founder Changpeng “CZ” Zhao has been ordered to stay in the United States until his sentencing in February 2024, with a federal judge determining there’s too much of a flight risk if the former exchange CEO is allowed to return to the United Arab Emirates. Seattle district court Judge Richard Jones wrote in his order:

“The defendant has enormous wealth and property abroad, and no ties to the United States […] His family resides in the UAE and it appears that he has favored status in the UAE. Under these circumstances, the Court finds that the defendant has not established by clear and convincing evidence that he is not likely to flee if he returns to the UAE.”

Jones accepted Zhao’s guilty plea to one count of Bank Secrecy Act violations, which the Binance founder submitted over two weeks ago on Nov. 21 alongside a $4.3 billion settlement with U.S. agencies. Now, the ex-CEO of Binance faces up to 18 months in prison.

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DOJ unveils extensive monitorship over Binance operations

Binance’s new compliance obligations include cooperation to grant U.S. authorities access to all documents, records and resources upon request.

Binance compliance commitments with the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) were unsealed on Dec. 8, revealing a significant government oversight of the crypto exchange operation and business activities.

In an analysis shared on X (formerly Twitter), John Reed Stark, a former Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) official, classified the “exhaustive list” of Binance’s new compliance commitments as a “consulting firm’s wish list” that will likely shut down the platform.

Binance’s new obligations are described in an 11-page document and include cooperation to grant authorities access to documents, records and resources at their request, including access to information related to its “former employees, agents, intermediaries, consultants, representatives, distributors, licenses, contractors, suppliers, and joint venture partners,” noted Stark.

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Crypto lawyer wants to depose Changpeng Zhao for civil case

The Moskowitz Law Firm, which represented many crypto investors in class-action lawsuits, cited the former Binance CEO’s “unique knowledge” of issues in calling for his deposition.

Adam Moskowitz, who has been the lead attorney in a number of civil cases involving crypto firms, filed a motion to take a deposition from former Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao.

In a Dec. 8 filing in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Flordia Miami Division, Moskowitz said Zhao’s testimony would be “crucial to the claims and defenses of all parties” involved. The law firm filed the motion as part of a $1 billion lawsuit against Zhao, Binance and crypto influencers, which a court ordered stayed in August.

Moskowitz and his firm have represented several clients in cases against high-profile crypto firms and related entities. He was counsel for many victims of the collapse of FTX in a lawsuit targeting celebrities who promoted the crypto exchange, as well as a suit claiming investors suffered losses from soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo touting Binance’s nonfungible tokens.

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Kazakhstan blocked 980 unlicensed crypto exchanges in 2023

The Financial Monitoring Agency has also launched nine investigations into “illegal exchange operations” and money laundering.

In 2023, Kazakhstan’s Financial Monitoring Agency (FMA) blocked access to almost a thousand crypto exchanges serving the country’s citizens without proper registration. 

According to a Dec. 7 press release published on the government’s website, the FMA denied access to 980 illegal platforms in 2023. It also launched nine investigations into “illegal exchange operations” and money laundering. This information was revealed by the chairman of the FMA, Ruslan Ostroumov, during the meeting of the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering in China.

Related: Kazakhstan officially launches digital tenge

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Binance says decision to pull Abu Dhabi licensing bid unrelated to US settlement

Former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, who pleaded guilty to one felony count in the United States in November, may not be able to return to the UAE before being sentenced.

Cryptocurrency exchange Binance’s unit in Abu Dhabi has pulled an application with the Emirate’s financial regulator, a move it claims was unrelated to the firm’s November settlement with authorities in the United States.

In a statement to Cointelegraph on Dec. 7, a Binance spokesperson said the exchange had chosen not to move forward with an application with Abu Dhabi’s Financial Services Regulatory Authority following an assessment of its “global licensing needs.” The agreement, withdrawn by BV Investment Management in November, would have allowed Binance to manage a collective investment fund.

The spokesperson said Binance’s decision was “unrelated” to a $4.3 billion settlement with U.S. authorities, in which Changpeng “CZ” Zhao pleaded guilty to one felony charge and stepped down as CEO. Binance’s former head of regional markets, Richard Teng, succeeded CZ and told Cointelegraph the exchange was “totally different” following the deal.

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Changpeng Zhao’s next move could involve decentralized science

Decentralized science, or DeSci, aims to apply decentralized business models to medical research.

Changpeng “CZ” Zhao’s tenure as the CEO of Binance may be over, but the exchange giant’s loss could be a boon for the decentralized science (DeSci) sector.

In a comment on X (formerly Twitter) on Tuesday, Nov. 28, the former Binance CEO revealed an interest in the rapidly developing sector.

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Judge accepts Binance CEO CZ’s guilty plea, with sentencing in Feb

This court “hereby accepts the guilty plea of the defendant to the charge […] and the defendant is adjudged guilty of such offense,” wrote Judge Richard Jones.

A federal judge has accepted Binance founder Changpeng “CZ” Zhao’s guilty plea to money laundering but hasn’t decided whether he can leave the United States before his February sentencing date.

In a Dec. 6 filing to a Seattle District Court, Judge Richard Jones said he accepted Zhao’s guilty plea to one count of Bank Secrecy Act violations, which the Binance founder submitted over two weeks ago on Nov. 21 alongside his exchange’s $4.3 billion settlement with United States agencies.

Part of the settlement deal saw Zhao step down as CEO of Binance and pay $150 million to regulators.

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