Binance CEO steps down; crypto platform hit with record $4.3 billion in damages

Binance chief Changpeng Zhao on Tuesday stepped down and pleaded guilty to breaking U.S. anti-money laundering laws as part of a $4.3 billion settlement resolving a years-long probe into the world’s largest crypto exchange, prosecutors said.

The CEO of Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, will step down after the company pleaded guilty Tuesday to violations of the Bank Secrecy Act, an anti-money laundering law, among other charges.

The company will pay more than $4.3 billion to settle the charges, the largest penalty in the history of the Treasury Department.

In prepared remarks, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Binance was guilty of “consistent and egregious violations of U.S. anti-money laundering and sanctions laws.”

The Justice Department said in a news release that Changpeng Zhao also pleaded guilty to failing to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program and would step down as chief executive.

Zhao also agreed to a $50 million fine as part of the settlement.

“Binance became the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange in part because of the crimes it committed — now it is paying one of the largest corporate penalties in U.S. history,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in the news release.

Zhao confirmed his departure from the chief executive role in a post on X, in which he acknowledged that he made mistakes. He also said Richard Teng, Binance’s head of regional markets, would take over as CEO.

Zhao said he would remain a shareholder of the company and be able to consult with its leadership. He also stressed that there were no allegations related to the misuse of customer funds or market manipulation.

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