The criminal sentencing of Binance founder and former CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) has been postponed to April 30, according to a notice filed on Monday in Seattle federal court.
The news was first reported by CNBC, noting that the docket entry did not explain why the prosecutors had delayed the hearing by two months. Zhao’s lawyer William Burck declined to comment on the delay, and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is also yet to comment publicly on the reason.
The original sentencing hearing was scheduled for Feb. 23, with the Judge presiding over the case Richard Jones rejecting two bids for him travel back to his home in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E), deeming him a flight risk on account of his “enormous wealth” and lack of ties to the U.S.
Zhao, who is currently out on a $175 million bail bond in Seattle, has already paid $50 million in fines and offered up his entire equity stake in Binance.US as security to ensure he travels back from the U.A.E. As of the last fundraising round, Zhao’s stake was valued at $4.5 billion, his lawyers said.
The Binance founder pleaded guilty to charges of money laundering and violating the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) on Nov. 21, stepping down from his role as CEO of Binance. The exchange also paid $4.3 billion in penalties to resolve the DOJ’s criminal investigation into the firm, alleging it operated as an unlicensed money transmitting business (MTB) and violated sanctions law.
Zhao is expected to face a sentence of up to 18 months in prison, but some believe that this could be a far longer sentence, particularly given the language used by prosecutors in a November filing.
“The reality is that the top-end of the Guidelines range may be as high as 18 months, and the United States is free to argue for any sentence up to the statutory maximum of ten years,” they said.