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Binance Founder Changpeng Zhao "CZ" Steps Down, Pleads Guilty

Binance founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao has stepped down after pleading guilty on Tuesday to US money laundering violations

According to court documents, the chief executive of Binance, the largest global cryptocurrency exchange, stepped down and pleaded guilty to violating U.S. anti-money-laundering requirements in a deal that might preserve the company's ability to continue operating.

Binacnce Founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao|Source: Reuters

Changpeng Zhao"CZ" stepped down as CEO of Binance as part of a major $4 billion settlement between United States agencies and the cryptocurrency exchange he founded.

As part of the settlement, Zhao appeared in federal court in Seattle on Tuesday afternoon and pleaded guilty to anti-money laundering and sanctions violations brought by the Department of Justice.

Additionally, Binance settled charges with the Department of Justice and Commodities Futures Trading Commission, the Department of Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which will give the Treasury Department access to Binance's books and records under the terms of a five-year monitorship.

Changpeng Zhao Post|Source: X

In response to the federal court's rulings, Zhao wrote in a post to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, "I made mistakes, and I must take responsibility."

The announcement from Zhao and multiple regulatory agencies on Tuesday summed up yearlong investigations by the Department of Justice and others into anti-money laundering violations and sanctions violations.

Zhao's departure as CEO will be a partial separation from Binance. The company's founder will remain its majority shareholder and a resource for "consultation on historical areas of the business," Binance said. It added that Binance executive Richard Teng would succeed Zhao as CEO.