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Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao to step down amid plea deal in U.S. anti-money laundering case

Changpeng Zhao, the CEO of Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, is set to step down and plead guilty to U.S. anti-money laundering charges. This move comes as part of a plea agreement that could allow the company to continue its operations. Zhao is expected to formally enter his plea in a Seattle federal court this Tuesday, insiders reveal.

The plea deal signifies the culmination of extensive investigations into Binance, a company Zhao founded in 2017, which quickly rose to prominence in the global crypto market. Despite growing its market share, especially after the fall of FTX, its offshore competitor, Binance has been under the shadow of these criminal investigations.

Under the agreement, Binance will plead guilty to criminal charges and agree to pay hefty fines totaling $4.3 billion. This sum includes settlements for civil allegations raised by regulators. This resolution will mark the end of the long-standing scrutiny of the company.

Recent times have seen significant upheaval within Binance, with key executives leaving and a substantial reduction in the workforce amid struggles related to the U.S. investigations. Despite these challenges, Zhao will maintain majority ownership of Binance. However, his role will change, as he will no longer hold an executive position in the company. His sentencing will be decided at a later date.

This case bears similarities to a previous case against BitMEX, a Seychelles-based crypto derivatives exchange. BitMEX’s former CEO, Arthur Hayes, also pleaded guilty to anti-money laundering law violations and received a sentence of two years probation.

The Department of Justice has not commented on the matter. The outcome of this case could have significant implications for the crypto industry, particularly regarding compliance with U.S. regulatory standards.

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