Binance Founder Changpeng Zhao Apologizes, Accepts 'Full Responsibility' in Letter to Judge Ahead of Sentencing

By Trisha Andrada

Apr 25, 2024 07:30 AM EDT

Binance founder and former CEO Changpeng Zhao has expressed regret for his involvement in money laundering and accepted "full responsibility" for his actions. 

Binance Co-Founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao speaks during a press conference at the Europe's largest tech conference, the Web Summit, in Lisbon on November 2, 2022. - The Web Summit will run until November 4, 2022.
(Photo : PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP via Getty Images)

Binance Founder Changpeng Zhao Apologizes for His Actions

In a letter to the judge handling his case filed on Tuesday, Zhao apologized for his "poor decisions." Zhao's sentencing will take place on April 30 after he and Binance reached a settlement with the US Department of Justice last November.

The DOJ is seeking a 36-month jail term. Zhao had been released on a $175 million bond since pleading guilty in November to money laundering violations.  

In the letter, Changpeng Zhao said: "I apologize for my poor decisions and accept full responsibility for my actions. In hindsight, I should have focused on implementing compliance changes at Binance from the get-go, and I did not. There is no excuse for my failure to establish the necessary compliance controls at Binance. I wish I could change that part of Binance's story."

Zhao also told Judge Richard A. Jones of the Western District of Washington that this would be his last interaction with the criminal justice system.

Nevertheless, Zhao boasted that under his direction, Binance is now implementing the most stringent anti-money laundering controls of any non-US exchange that have been in place since 2022. He said they had created "a great product" that has fully protected all users and their funds "at every turn."

Read Also: US Seeks 36-Month Sentence for Binance Founder Changpeng Zhao

Support From Family, Friends, and Even Royalty Pours in For the Binance Founder 

In addition to Changpeng Zhao's letter, CoinDesk reported that 161 other letters of support pleading for leniency came from family members, friends, and others.

Zhao's sister, Jessica Zhao, a former Managing Director at Morgan Stanley, said her brother lives to make a difference in people's lives despite making mistakes. She added that Zhao ensured Binance never misused client funds, citing the FTX scandal as an example.

He Yi, another Binance co-founder and mother of Zhao's three children, also said: "As a founder who has never managed a company of this size, he was sure to encounter blind spots."

Yang Weiqing, Zhao's wife and the mother of his two children, mentioned Binance's 2018 donation of tens of millions of yen to Japan's disaster-stricken areas despite the firm only withdrawing from the Japanese market months before.

Rachel and Ryan, Zhao's two children who go to universities in the US, told the judge stories showing their father's support and asked not to use this one incident to define the Binance founder's character. 

According to Bloomberg, other individuals who also wrote Zhao were Fosun International co-founder Xinjun Liang, former US ambassador to China Max Baucus, the founder of venture capital firm Antler, top executives of crypto mining firm Bitfury, two members of the ruling family in the United Arab Emirates, and other prominent figures in the cryptocurrency industry.

Read More: Philippine SEC Cracks Down on Binance, Requesting Removal From Google and Apple App Stores

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