Changpeng “CZ” Zhao is stepping down as CEO of Binance as part of a massive $4 billion settlement between the Department of Justice and the cryptocurrency exchange he founded, according to sources close to discussions with the agency.
The agreement will be made with the DOJ and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission; The Securities and Exchange Commission disagrees.
As part of the agreement, Zhao will also plead guilty to anti-money laundering charges brought by the Department of Justice. He is scheduled to enter a plea in federal court in Seattle on Tuesday afternoon, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Binance, DOJ, CFTC, and SEC had not responded to requests for comment at the time of publication.
In June, the SEC accused Binance and its founder CZ of operating an unregistered exchange and misleading investors by using Sigma Chain, a Switzerland-based fund also owned by CZ, to inflate trading volume on Binance’s US platform. “With thirteen charges, we allege that Zhao and Binance entities engaged in an extensive network of deception, conflict of interest, failure to disclose, and calculated evasion of the law,” SEC Chairman Gary Gensler said in a statement in June.
The SEC lawsuit follows charges brought by the CFTC, which alleged that the company offered crypto derivatives such as futures or options contracts to U.S. citizens without registering as a futures commodity trader.
Bloomberg reported on Monday that Binance is ready to reach a $4 billion settlement with the Department of Justice. The settlement would mark the end of the Justice Department’s investigation into the crypto exchange, which began at least in 2018. Reuters reported that federal prosecutors asked Binance to hand over files and messages related to its U.S. customers in late 2020.
Last September, Binance announced the establishment of a Global Advisory Board led by former US Senator and Ambassador to China Max Baucus. Other members include David Plouffe, President Barack Obama’s former campaign manager, and Bruno Bézard, former head of the French Treasury.
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