Binance owner and CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao has agreed to resign and plead guilty to violating anti-money laundering laws, according to reports from The Wall Street Journal And Forbes. This is part of the major settlement the Justice Department is expected to announce this afternoon, which would force Binance to pay more than $4.3 billion in fines.
Even though Zhao can no longer assume an executive role at Binance, the News reports that the terms of the deal will allow Zhao to retain its majority stake in the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange. Zhao is expected to enter his plea Tuesday in a Seattle court, with sentencing expected at a later date. Richard Teng, Binance’s head of regional markets, is in the running to take Zhao’s place, according to Forbes.
The Securities and Exchange Commission first sued Binance and Zhao in June, accusing the cryptocurrency exchange of operating illegally in the United States while defrauding investors. The agency also attempted to freeze Binance’s assets over claims that the exchange had engaged in “violative conduct” in “disregard of the laws of the United States.” Binance ultimately avoided the freeze by implementing a set of restrictions that prevent Binance and Zhao from having access to customer funds, among other things.
Although the DOJ has still not confirmed the terms of the settlement, the agency said it will hold a press conference at 3 p.m. ET to “announce separate but cryptocurrency-related enforcement actions.” Binance is just one of the crypto empires targeted by the SEC after the collapse of FTX, as Coinbase also faces a lawsuit.