Binance Pleads Guilty and Pays $4.3 Billion in Fines for Money Laundering

Binance has pleaded guilty to money laundering charges and agreed to pay $4.3 billion in fines and penalties to the U.S. government, in what is the largest such settlement in the history of federal financial prosecutions.

The plea deal was accepted by Federal Judge Richard Jones on Friday, following a Reuters report that revealed the details of the agreement. According to the report, Binance admitted to failing to implement an effective anti-money laundering (AML) program and allowing illicit actors to use its platform for various criminal activities, such as ransomware, darknet markets, exchange hacks, and internet scams.

The settlement includes a criminal fine of $1.8 million and a forfeiture of $2.5 million for a financial penalty. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutors said that the $4.3 billion was the largest penalty imposed on a money services business in the DOJ’s history, “one commensurate with the severity of Binance’s criminal conduct,” they said.

The plea deal also affects the fate of Binance’s founder and CEO, Changpeng Zhao, who is currently out on a $175 million bond and facing money laundering sanctions violations by the DOJ. Zhao’s sentencing has been postponed until April 30, and he is barred from any present or future involvement in operating or managing business related to Binance.

Binance has been facing legal troubles in multiple jurisdictions, as regulators around the world have been cracking down on the cryptocurrency industry. In December, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois approved a settlement between Binance and the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) of $2.7 billion, with Zhao required to pay $150 million personally after being charged with violating the Commodity Exchange Act and other CFTC regulations.

Binance has not issued any official statement on the plea deal, but has previously said that it is committed to complying with the laws and regulations of the countries where it operates. The exchange has also been trying to improve its compliance and security measures, such as hiring former regulators and law enforcement officials, and implementing stricter KYC and AML policies.

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