Binance owner and CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao has agreed to step down and plead guilty to breaking anti-money laundering laws, according to reports from The Wall Street Journal and Forbes. This comes as part of the major settlement the Department of Justice is expected to announce this afternoon, which will reportedly require Binance to fork over $4.3 billion in fines.
Even though Zhao can no longer assume an executive role at Binance, the WSJ reports the terms of the agreement will let Zhao keep his majority ownership of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange. Zhao is expected to enter his plea at a Seattle court on Tuesday, with sentencing to come at a later date. Richard Teng, Binance’s head of regional markets, is in the running to take Zhao’s place, according to Forbes.
The Securities and Exchange Commission first sued Binance and Zhao in June, accusing the crypto exchange of operating illegally in the US while defrauding investors. The agency also attempted to freeze Binance’s assets over claims the exchange engaged in “violative conduct” in “disregard of the laws of the United States.” Binance ultimately avoided the freeze by implementing a set of restrictions that prevents Binance and Zhao from having access to customer funds, among other things.
While the DOJ still hasn’t confirmed the terms of the settlement, the agency has announced it’s holding a press conference at 3PM ET to “announce separate but related cryptocurrency enforcement actions.” Binance is just one of the crypto empires the SEC has targeted following the collapse of FTX, as Coinbase is also facing a lawsuit.