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Binance’s CZ Considered a Flight Risk Despite Judge Ruling he Can Leave for UAE

Last Updated November 23, 2023 3:10 PM
Teuta Franjkovic
Last Updated November 23, 2023 3:10 PM

Key Takeaways

  • There are emerging concerns that CZ Zhao, following his plea deal, may face restrictions on traveling to the UAE.
  • The DOJ raised the issue of flight risk in its recent court filing, suggesting potential limitations on CZ’s ability to travel.
  • This development comes after Judge Tsuchida previously expressed skepticism about CZ being considered a flight risk.

Despite agreeing to a $50 million fine as part of a guilty plea deal and a $175 million personal recognizance bond for release, the legal troubles for former Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao persist in the U.S.

A ruling on CZ’s bond terms on November 21 by Magistrate Judge Brian A. Tsuchida allowed him to travel to the UAE, emphasizing that he wouldn’t have entered a plea in person if he posed a flight risk. However, the Department of Justice (DOJ) disagrees with this assessment, asserting that CZ is a flight risk in the ongoing dispute over bond terms.

Binance CEO CZ Could Flee to the UAE Before Sentencing, DOJ Warns

In a court filing,  U.S. prosecutors have requested that former Binance CEO CZ be barred from leaving the country until his sentencing, citing concerns over his potential flight risk. The prosecutors argue  that CZ’s strong ties to the UAE, where he holds citizenship, and his substantial financial resources could make him a flight risk if allowed to travel.

Specifically, the prosecutors point to CZ’s “favored position” in the UAE, which they suggest could make it difficult or impossible to extradite him to the US if he were to flee. They also note that CZ has strong family ties to the UAE and possesses significant financial assets, further increasing the incentive for him to evade prosecution.

While the US does not have an extradition treaty with the UAE, prosecutors maintain that CZ’s presence in the country would pose a significant risk of flight, and they urge the court to uphold the restriction on his travel until his sentencing.

According to a DOJ spokesperson , Changpeng Zhao (CZ) was initially expected to remain in the Seattle area until Monday evening. However, following that period, he would be permitted to return to his residency in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

CZ’s Deep Roots and Wealth Raise Flight Risk Concerns

The prosecution argued  that CZ would not abandon his family to come to the U.S. and potentially face imprisonment:

“As Zhao explained during the hearing, he has three young children and a partner in the UAE; once in the UAE and faced with the prospect of traveling back to the United States to face up to 18 months in prison, he may elect to instead simply stay in the UAE with his family,” the prosecution stated.

The DOJ also raised apprehensions regarding CZ’s “significant bail package,” contending that it was insufficient to guarantee his return. The argument was based on the assertion that most of the assets linked to the bond were beyond the government’s reach.

Additionally, the prosecution highlighted that CZ, being a multibillionaire, could potentially forfeit over $20 million to indemnify his guarantors and still “live comfortably for the rest of his life in the UAE” if he decided to evade sentencing.

With CZ’s deep connections to the UAE and his vast financial clout, prosecutors harbor grave concerns that he might slip away from the country to evade the looming legal consequences. To safeguard the course of justice, prosecutors implore the court to impose travel restrictions until his sentencing. The unfolding of this captivating saga will undoubtedly keep us all on our toes.

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