Binance founder and former CEO Changpeng Zhao penned a letter to the judge overseeing his case ahead of his sentencing hearing on April 30, saying he deeply regretted his choices and assured the court that the charges he is on trial for would be his “only encounter with the criminal justice system.” 

“I apologize for my poor decisions and accept full responsibility for my actions. In hindsight, I should have focused on implementing compliance changes at Binance from the get-go, and I did not,” said Zhao in the letter to Judge Richard Jones filed on Tuesday. 

He went on to note that Binance has now implemented the “most stringent anti-money laundering controls of any non-US exchange” and that they have been in place since 2022.

Zhao’s letter to the judge comes after prosecutors at the U.S. Department of Justice recommended that the Binance founder be sentenced to a minimum of 36 months in prison.

“Zhao bet that he would not get caught, and that if he did, the consequences would not be as serious as the crime,” said the prosecutors in a memo to the judge filed on the same day.

“The sentence in this case will not just send a message to Zhao but also to the world.”

Zhao’s lawyers were quick to respond with their own sentencing memo to the judge saying that no other defendants, tried under similar circumstances of violating the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) had ever been sentenced to a term of imprisonment. They recommended that instead Zhao be sentenced to probation, given his lack of criminal history and acceptance of responsibility.

Zhao has also received overwhelming support from family members, friends, business leaders, and Binance employees in the form of 161 letters of support seeking leniency from the judge.

“Today, it is his sense of responsibility that makes him choose to face the trial, but he should never be regarded as the same as evil murderers, robbers, and frauds,” wrote He Yi, Binance cofounder and the mother of Zhao’s three children.