US court orders Binance founder, Changpeng Zhao to surrender all passports

A United States (US) district court has ordered the founder and former CEO of Binance, Changpeng Zhao to surrender all his passports to a third party and keep authorities updated on his travel plans.

The order was contained in a legal filing tendered on Tuesday, modifying Zhao’s bond conditions for release.

This development emerged following the US application to modify his bond requirements on March 5.

Bond conditions are court-enforced demands that a defendant on pretrial release must follow until his case is resolved under law.

As part of the bond, Richard Jones, a US district judge, ordered Zhao to remain in the US and notify court authorities of any travel arrangements.

“Defendant must remain in the continental United States through the imposition of sentence,” the judge said.

“Defendant must notify Pretrial Services before any travel within the continental United States.

“Defendant must surrender his current Canadian passport to a third-party custodian employed and supervised by his counsel of record. The third-party custodian must retain control over that Canadian passport and must accompany Defendant on any travel that requires identification documents.

“Defendant must surrender all other current and expired passports and travel documents to his counsel of record, who may return those documents to defendant only with authorisation from Pretrial Services or the Court. Defendant may not apply for or obtain a new passport or travel document from any country without the Court’s permission.”

In November 2023, the US SEC accused Zhao of money laundering, unlicensed money transmitting and violations in Seattle.

Binance was also accused of facilitating the trading of several crypto tokens the SEC deemed as securities.

On November 1, 2023, Zhao pleaded guilty to the charges, with Binance also agreeing to pay more than $4 billion in fines and other penalties.

Zhao, who stepped down as Binance’s CEO in November last year, is scheduled to be sentenced on April 30, 2024.

In response to the bond modification, the crypto expert had argued that the restrictions were unnecessary as his travel “has not been an issue to date”.

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