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Crypto: Why Was CZ's Sentence So Light?

Fri 03 May 2024 ▪ 3 min of reading ▪ by Fenelon L.

Former Binance CEO, Changpeng Zhao, aka CZ, has been sentenced to only 4 months in prison for financial crimes. Here’s a look back at the reasons why he received such a surprisingly lenient sentence.

Crypto expert CZ in prison

How did CZ’s reputation earn him a minimal sentence?

Changpeng Zhao, aka CZ, was sentenced on Tuesday by the Seattle court to a four-month prison term. This penalty may seem lenient considering the charges against the former leader of Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange platform.

The company indeed reached an agreement to pay a record $4.3 billion fine for violations of the Bank Secrecy Act, the US anti-money laundering legislation.

During the sentencing hearing, which lasted 2 and a half hours, Judge Richard Jones, defense attorneys, and even the prosecutor unanimously portrayed CZ as an atypical offender. They described a philanthropic man, benefactor, family man, and first-time offender who chose to turn himself in to justice. A positive image that worked in his favor.

Judge Jones indicated that he had devoted his weekend to reviewing the many letters of support sent by CZ’s acquaintances, to the point that the binder containing them literally fell apart under their volume. He claimed to have never seen such a large amount of uniformly laudatory testimonials about a defendant. These were mitigating circumstances that influenced his decision.

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Lapses Punished Despite Everything

CZ’s defense also highlighted that although a resident of the United Arab Emirates, which do not have an extradition treaty with the United States, he voluntarily chose to cooperate unreservedly with the US authorities. His “exceptional” collaboration, clean record, and good faith were seen as determining factors.

The judge, however, made it a point to remind that CZ’s wealth and influence did not place him above the law. Having his name associated with the largest crypto exchange does not allow him to decide which rules he adheres to or not.

In summary, with only 4 months of prison to serve, CZ seems to be getting off lightly. This episode could be just a pause in the journey of this billionaire who now intends to dedicate himself to large-scale educational projects. All indications are that he will be able to resume his activities upon release, probably before the end of the year.

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Fenelon L. avatar
Fenelon L.

Passionné par le Bitcoin, j'aime explorer les méandres de la blockchain et des cryptos et je partage mes découvertes avec la communauté. Mon rêve est de vivre dans un monde où la vie privée et la liberté financière sont garanties pour tous, et je crois fermement que Bitcoin est l'outil qui peut rendre cela possible.


The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author, and should not be taken as investment advice. Do your own research before taking any investment decisions.