Changpeng Zhao (CZ), the founder of cryptocurrency exchange Binance, has offered a cryptic response to reports claiming he is barred from leaving the United States. Using his traditional method of signaling misinformation, Zhao flashed the number "4" on social media, a symbol he commonly associates with fake news, attacks, and FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt).
This enigmatic gesture follows recent developments involving Zhao and legal challenges in the U.S. He recently entered a guilty plea for violating U.S. anti-money laundering laws, part of a substantial $4.3 billion settlement agreement with the Department of Justice and other agencies. Subsequently, Zhao stepped down from his role as CEO of Binance.
The legal saga took a turn when District Judge Richard Jones issued a stay on a ruling that would have allowed Zhao to travel to his home in the United Arab Emirates. Multiple news sources reported that this action effectively prohibited Zhao from leaving the U.S. until his sentencing. However, Calvin Cheng, Serbia's consul to Singapore, clarified that the judge's decision was pending a full hearing, suggesting that reports of an outright travel ban might be premature.
Zhao's response to Cheng's correction was a high-five emoji accompanied by the number 4, subtly disputing the veracity of the reports without directly addressing them. In legal terms, a stay is a court order to halt a proceeding or action, often temporary and subject to further judicial review.
The court's decision specified that Zhao's permission to return to the UAE is on hold until the resolution of the government's motion for review. The ruling emphasized that Zhao cannot return to the UAE until the court has fully addressed the government's concerns.
Amidst these legal entanglements, Binance.US, the American arm of the global cryptocurrency exchange, announced that Zhao had resigned as chairman of its board of directors. His resignation involves transferring his voting rights to a proxy, indicating a shift to a purely economic interest in the company. "As CZ transitions to life after Binance, he has decided to step down from his role as Chairman of our Board of Directors and transferred his voting rights through a proxy arrangement, whereby his interest in the company is purely economic, and he will no longer be involved in our governance," a statement from Binance.US read.
Zhao's legal challenges and his decision to step back from Binance.US's governance mark a significant moment in the cryptocurrency industry, raising questions about the future direction of one of the world's largest digital asset exchanges.