The founder and CEO of Binance, Changpeng Zhao, has agreed to step down from his role after pleading guilty to multiple criminal charges brought by the U.S. authorities.
It was gathered that Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, will have to pay a whopping $4.3 billion to settle the allegations of violating money laundering and other regulations.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has been investigating Binance and Zhao for more than five months, following the accusations by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that they lied to regulators about their operations.
Binance and Zhao are facing 13 charges in the federal case, ranging from operating an unregistered securities exchange to facilitating illegal transactions.
Zhao, who pleaded guilty on Tuesday, has therefore agreed to step down from his position as part of the plea deal, as he is expected to appear in a Seattle federal court to finalize his plea bargains.
The case got complicated in March this year, when the U.S. Commodity Futures and Trading Commission (CFTC) filed a suit against Binance, Zhao and its Chief Compliance Officer, Samuel Lim, for allegedly violating trading and derivatives rules.
Binance was founded by Zhao in June 2017 and quickly rose to become the largest crypto exchange in the world, with a daily trading volume of over $100 billion.
However, the company has also faced regulatory scrutiny and challenges in several countries, including the UK, Japan, Germany, and Canada.