The former boss of the Binance cryptocurrency platform, Changpeng Zhao, was sentenced on Tuesday April 30 to four months in prison for money laundering by a San Francisco court. The founder of the company, who pleaded guilty in November 2023 before the American courts, received a much lesser sentence than the three years of imprisonment requested by the prosecution.

A Canadian citizen, Mr. Zhao announced at the end of 2023 that he was leaving his position at the head of Binance, a decision which was above all the consequence of an agreement signed with the American authorities. According to the investigation carried out by two agencies reporting to the US Treasury Department, Binance had not put in place the necessary measures to prevent transactions carried out for the benefit of groups such as the Islamic State organization, Al-Qaeda or the armed wing of Palestinian Hamas.

Prosecuted, Changpeng Zhao eventually pleaded guilty to violating anti-money laundering laws and Binance agreed to pay $4.3 billion to end the prosecution of the company.

Prosecutors had requested a three-year prison sentence with a $50 million fine. “He believed that violating American law was the best way to attract users, build his business and line his pockets, it was a business decision,” the Department of Justice wrote in the documents filed to justify this request. . The conviction in this case will not only be a message to Mr. Zhao but to the entire world. »

“I made mistakes.”

The lawyers of the former king of cryptocurrencies requested that their client’s recognition of the facts, as well as his philanthropic activities in the past, be taken into account. “I made mistakes, I accept the consequences,” said Mr. Zhao, who now lives in the United Arab Emirates, in a post on X in November.

Binance was founded in 2017 and quickly became the number one cryptocurrency exchange, making its founder and CEO a billionaire. Although the company was created in China, Mr. Zhao moved the headquarters to different countries after Beijing wanted to reduce the share of the cryptocurrency sector in its economy.

The platform, which notably allows you to buy and sell cryptocurrencies, suffered enormously from the fall of the market in 2022, but also from investigations by regulators looking into the legality of the market.