Binance founder Changpeng “CZ” Zhao’s request to travel from the US to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for personal reasons has been denied by a US federal judge, a recent court filing has revealed.
The request, filed on January 23 and related to the “hospitalization and surgery” of an individual in Zhao’s life, was accompanied by an offer to use his Binance equity, valued at $4.5 billion, as security for his return to the US.
Zhao pleaded guilty in November to failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering (AML) program at Binance, by far the world’s largest crypto exchange by trading volume.
Binance has agreed to pay $4.3 billion in penalties in connection with the case.
Despite stepping down as CEO due to his plea, Zhao has remained free on a $175 million release bond pending his sentencing on February 23.
Zhao requested travel to UAE for one to four weeks
In the letter to Judge Richard Jones dated December 22, Zhao’s lawyers requested permission for him to travel to Abu Dhabi from January 4 for one to four weeks.
The purpose was to support a person undergoing medical treatment. The name of the person and details of the medical treatment has been redacted from the letter.
“If the Court is unable to permit Mr. Zhao to reside at home in the UAE for the full extent of this requested time, he respectfully requests that he be permitted to return home for the surgery and initial recovery period, specifically January 4 through January 11, 2024,” the letter said.
Zhao’s letter to Judge Jones. Source: Courtlistener
However, the court records reveal that federal prosecutors did not consent to Zhao’s request, and Judge Jones denied the travel bid in a closed hearing on December 29.
This marks the second time Zhao’s travel request to the UAE has been denied by Judge Jones, who cited Zhao’s “enormous wealth” and lack of ties to the United States as factors contributing to his potential flight risk.
The judge wrote:
“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.”
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