- Zhao pleaded guilty to BSA violations, agreeing to a $50M fine; Binance faces $3.1B in total fines
- Richard Teng, with decades of regulatory experience, named new Binance CEO by Zhao
- Zhao stepped down as CEO, expressing regret but noting allegations did not include misusing funds
Former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao has pleaded guilty to federal money laundering charges. As part of the plea deal, Zhao has stepped down from his role and named a successor to take over leadership of the cryptocurrency exchange he founded.
Zhao Pleads Guilty to Bank Secrecy Act Violations
Zhao pleaded guilty to violating and causing a financial institution to violate the Bank Secrecy Act. The Department of Justice is recommending a $50 million fine for Zhao as part of the plea agreement. Binance itself faces three criminal charges and has agreed to $3.1 billion in fines and forfeiture.
Richard Teng Named as New Binance CEO
Zhao has named Richard Teng, former CEO of Abu Dhabi Global Market, as the new CEO of Binance. Teng has over three decades of experience in financial services and regulation. According to Zhao, Teng will focus on providing confidence in Binance’s financial strength, collaborating with regulators, and driving the growth of web3.
Zhao Steps Down, Expresses Regret
In a post, Zhao said “I must take responsibility” and that it was “not easy to let go emotionally.” However, he said he was proud U.S. agencies did not allege Binance misappropriated user funds or market manipulation. Zhao said he likely won’t serve as a startup CEO again, but may advise entrepreneurs privately.
Binance Faces Scrutiny Amid Crypto Industry Turmoil
The charges and leadership change come during increased regulatory pressure on the crypto industry. The settlement follows a trial and guilty verdict for FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried on fraud charges. Binance aims to demonstrate a commitment to compliance amid industry uncertainty.