A U.S. judge rejected Changpeng 'CZ' Zhao's request to travel to the United Arab Emirates last month, despite the Binance founder and former CEO offering to post his $4.5 billion Binance US equity as security for his return.

According to a court filing this week, Zhao's lawyers requested in December 2023 that he be allowed to travel to the UAE, so that he could be present for the "hospitalization and surgery" of an unnamed individual in Abu Dhabi.

Zhao offered to provide "significant additional property and financial security to assure his timely return," including his equity in Binance US, valued at "$4.5 billion in the last round of fundraising 2 years ago," the Binance founder's legal team noted.

The Binance founder pleaded guilty in November 2023 to charges of failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program at the crypto exchange, and agreed to step down as CEO of Binance as part of a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice.


Zhao faces between 10 and 18 months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines. As part of the settlement, Binance was required to exit the U.S. market and pay $4.3 billion in penalties for AML and sanctions violations.

In December 2023, a federal judge ruled that Zhao must remain in the U.S. pending his sentencing, citing his "enormous wealth and property abroad," and lack of ties to the United States.

Prosecutors had argued that Zhao posed a flight risk, as a "non-U.S. but UAE citizen with substantial wealth outside the United States, minimal ties to the United States, and a residence in a country without an extradition treaty with the United States."

Edited by Stacy Elliott.


Daily Debrief Newsletter

Start every day with the top news stories right now, plus original features, a podcast, videos and more.