The new frontier of cryptocurrency has hit another snag as Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao steps down after pleading guilty to criminal charges. Binance, the cryptocurrency platform, now owes the U.S. $4.3 billion as part of its settlement with the Department of Justice.
On November 21, 2023, MacKenzie Sigalos and Ryan Browne of CNBC reported that Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao stepped down from the cryptocurrency firm and is pleading guilty to criminal charges. This is part of a $4.3 billion settlement with the Department of Justice. Zhao was charged with failing to implement an effective anti-money laundering program and for a “deliberate and calculated effort” to try and profit from the market without having implemented controls required by U.S. law.
Taking to X, formerly Twitter, Changpeng Zhao had the following to say about stepping down, his replacement, and his plans for the future.
Today, I stepped down as CEO of Binance. Admittedly, it was not easy to let go emotionally. But I know it is the right thing to do. I made mistakes, and I must take responsibility. This is best for our community, for Binance, and for myself.
Binance is no longer a baby. It is time for me to let it walk and run. I know Binance will continue to grow and excel with the deep bench it has.
I’m pleased to announce that @_RichardTeng, our now former Global Head of Regional Markets, has been named the new CEO of Binance today.
Richard is a highly qualified leader and, with over three decades of financial services and regulatory experience, he will navigate the company through its next period of growth. He will ensure Binance delivers on our next phase of security, transparency, compliance, and growth.
Prior to joining Binance, Richard was CEO of the Financial Services Regulatory Authority at Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM); Chief Regulatory Officer of the Singapore Exchange (SGX); and Director of Corporate Finance in the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
With Richard and the entire team, I’m confident that the best days for @Binance and the crypto industry lay ahead.
As a shareholder and former CEO with historical knowledge of our company, I will remain available to the team to consult as needed, consistent with the framework set out in our U.S. agency resolutions.
What’s next for me?
I will take a break first. I have not had a single day of real (phone off) break for the last 6 and half years.
After that, my current thinking is I will probably do some passive investing, being a minority token/shareholder in startups in areas of blockchain/Web3/DeFi, AI and biotech. I am happy that I will finally have more time to spend looking at DeFi.
I can’t see myself being a CEO driving a startup again. I am content being an one-shot (lucky) entrepreneur. Should there be listeners, I may be open to being a coach/mentor to a small number of upcoming entrepreneurs, privately. If for nothing else, I can at least tell them what not to do.
On that note, I am proud to point out that in our resolutions with the U.S. agencies they:
- do not allege that Binance misappropriated any user funds, and
- do not allege that Binance engaged in any market manipulation.
Funds are SAFU!
With that, I look forward to seeing the new leadership take the reins. Please join me in congratulating Richard on his well-deserved promotion.
According to the CNBC report, the Department of Justice is recommending that the court fine Zhao $50 million. Meanwhile, Zhao has been released on a $175 million bond and has his sentencing scheduled for February 23, 2024.
Cryptocurrency is already a volatile market for investors, but it seems as though the volatility seeps into leadership as well. Recently, FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried was found guilty on all seven counts of fraud. The charges mean that Bankman-Fried could face a maximum of 115 years in prison.
In adjacent news, the Biden administration signed an executive order for new AI safety standards which seek to protect people from nefarious uses of artificial intelligence. Following this news, a company called Del Complex made it known it wants to create floating sovereign nation states to avoid said AI regulation. It will be interesting to see how the U.S. cracks down on not only cryptocurrency exchanges and their CEOs, but also companies looking to skirt new laws that are designed to protect people from the potential dangers of these emerging technologies.