Justice Department Considering Criminal Charges Against Binance Founder Changpeng Zhao: Report

Zinger Key Points
  • Justice Department considering criminal charges against crypto exchange Binance and its CEO, Reuters reports.
  • Potential plea deals reportedly came up in conversations between Binance's attorneys and Department of Justice representatives.

The U.S. Department of Justice is considering slapping criminal charges against cryptocurrency exchange Binance BNB/USD and specific individuals related to the firm, including its CEO and founder Changpeng Zhao.

Prosecutors are split on whether to pursue the case vigorously or wait to review further evidence, according to a Reuters story citing four people familiar with the situation.

Also Read: Binance's CZ Denies Market Hack After 'Abnormal' Price Movement Suspicions

The alleged offenses stem from a 2018 inquiry into Binance's compliance with AML regulations and fines.

According to reports, prosecutors from the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team, the Western District of Washington U.S. Attorney's Office, and the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS) of the Justice Department are all participating in the probe.

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According to Reuters, Binance's defense lawyers have met with DOJ officials to discuss possible plea deals.

Binance is said to have argued that a criminal prosecution would have a negative impact on the cryptocurrency market, which is already reeling from the fallout from the collapses of Terra and FTX.

Binance asserted in a statement posted on Twitter that "Reuters has it wrong again" and that "We don't have any insight into the inner workings of the US Justice Department, nor would it be appropriate for us to comment if we did."

Ongoing Investigations Against Binance

Binance was apparently under investigation by the DOJ and IRS in 2021, according to a Bloomberg story.

It is unclear whether the Reuters claim refers to the same inquiry.

In May 2021, Binance posted a statement on Twitter stating that it had "worked hard to build a robust compliance program that incorporates anti-money laundering principles and tools used by financial institutions to detect and address suspicious activity."

The exchange added that it "takes our legal obligations very seriously and engages with regulators and law enforcement in a collaborative fashion."

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Photo: Courtesy of binance.com

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Posted In: CryptocurrencyNewsMarketsBinanceChangpeng ZhaoU.S. Department of Justice
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