Binance founder Changpeng Zhao’s (CZ) bid to visit the United Arab Emirates has hit a roadblock, with a federal judge upholding previous denials despite his offer to post a massive $4.5 billion security deposit. This latest development in the ongoing legal saga surrounding CZ adds another layer to the already complex relationship between the cryptocurrency mogul and the United States.
A Family Emergency
CZ, facing legal troubles in the U.S., sought permission to travel to Dubai for a family emergency, offering his Binance equity as collateral to guarantee his return. The $4.5 billion valuation was based on Binance’s last fundraising round in 2022, reflecting a significant portion of the exchange’s estimated worth. Despite this unprecedented offer, the judge remained unconvinced and rejected CZ’s request, keeping him under travel restrictions within the U.S.
Binance founder Changpeng Zhao’s bid to visit the United Arab Emirates was denied by a federal judge, despite his offer to post a $4.5 billion security deposit. This decision comes amidst an ongoing legal battle between Zhao and the United States, where he has been charged with violating US laws against money laundering.
On December 22, Zhao’s lawyers had filed a request for permission to travel to the UAE for the “hospitalization and surgery” of a person in his life. However, Judge Richard Jones refused his request, citing his “enormous wealth” and “property abroad” as reasons for being a significant flight risk. The filing was accompanied by a hospital document, though the name of the patient that underwent the procedure was redacted.
His legal team had requested Judge Jones’ permission for Zhao to travel to Abu Dhabi from Jan. 4 for one to four weeks. This travel was to coincide with the hospitalization, surgery, and subsequent recovery of an individual, whose identity is redacted in the letter submitted on Wednesday.
February 23 Sentencing
Zhao, who resigned as CEO due to his plea, is set to face sentencing on Feb. 23 but has remained at liberty in the U.S. on a $175 million release bond.
The letter, with details of the medical procedure also redacted, highlighted that federal prosecutors had not given their consent to Zhao’s travel request.
In response to this plea, Judge Jones conducted a closed hearing on Dec. 29 and subsequently denied Zhao’s request to travel, as indicated in court records.
A Favored Status
“The defendant has enormous wealth and property abroad, and no ties to the United States. His family resides in the UAE and it appears that he has favored status in the UAE,” Jones wrote in a six-page order on Dec. 7. “Under these circumstances the Court finds that the defendant has not established by clear and convincing evidence that he is not likely to flee if he returns to the UAE.”
Zhao has already pleaded guilty to the charges and is due to be sentenced on February 23. This latest development adds another layer to the already complex relationship between Zhao and the United States. The continued legal hurdles for CZ could cast a shadow of uncertainty over Binance, potentially impacting investor confidence and market sentiment.