In a landmark development, Binance Holdings Limited (Binance), the operator of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance.com, has pleaded guilty to federal charges totaling $4 billion. The company’s founder and CEO, Changpeng Zhao, also known as CZ, a Canadian national, has admitted to failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering (AML) program, resulting in his resignation as CEO of Binance.
The guilty plea is part of coordinated resolutions with the Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Attorney General Merrick B. Garland emphasized the significance of this development, stating, “Binance became the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange in part because of the crimes it committed – now it is paying one of the largest corporate penalties in U.S. history.
“Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division highlighted that “Changpeng Zhao made Binance, the company he founded and ran as CEO, into the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world by targeting U.S. customers, but refused to comply with U.S. law.”In addition to the criminal enforcement actions, the Treasury Department and the CFTC have announced civil regulatory enforcement actions against Binance.
Treasury Secretary Yellen and CFTC Chairman Behnam underscored the significance of this collective effort in combating corporate crime. While Binance’s guilty plea marks an important measure of accountability, the Justice Department has also secured a guilty plea from Changpeng Zhao for willfully violating the Bank Secrecy Act. This development underscores the government’s commitment to holding both corporations and individuals accountable for their actions.