Judge Signs Off on Binance's $4.3B Plea Deal With U.S. Prosecutors

A federal judge has signed off on crypto exchange Binance's $4.3 billion plea deal with the U.S. Department of Justice.

During a sentencing hearing Friday, Judge Richard Jones of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington approved the top-line fine itself, though he did not yet sign off on any monitor for the exchange. Bloomberg first reported the news earlier Friday.

The DOJ announced the settlement last November, alleging Binance had violated sanctions and anti-money-laundering laws over a years-long period. Under the terms of the settlement, the exchange would pay $4.3 billion, appoint an independent compliance monitor and have its CEO at the time, founder Changpeng Zhao, step down. Zhao pleaded guilty to separate charges and is currently scheduled to be sentenced in late April.

In a statement, a Binance spokesperson said the exchange was accepting responsibility through the plea deal, adding that the exchange had improved its know-your-customer and anti-money-laundering compliance in recent years.

"We are gratified by the recognition we have received from regulators regarding our cooperation and significantly enhanced compliance," the statement said. "We look forward in the coming months to continuing to build on our efforts to set the industry standard for compliance, security, and transparency."

A DOJ spokesperson declined to comment. In a sentencing memo ahead of the hearing, prosecutors wrote that the agreement "reflects the nature and circumstances" of Binance's alleged conduct.

"Critically, the agreed-upon sentence will promote specific and general deterrence. As part of its plea agreement, Binance has agreed to take substantial measures to ensure its ongoing compliance with U.S. law. And the significant sentence agreed to here demonstrates to other financial institutions that may seek to break the law under the guise of 'innovation' that there will be serious consequences for their criminal actions," the memo said.