Binance’s bitcoin reserves have depleted by $200 million in the wake of the crypto exchange and its ex-chief Changpeng Zhao (CZ) pleading guilty to federal charges in the US — while CZ has paid bond, prosecutors are fighting for him to remain in the country until he can be sentenced.
According to CryptoQuant, on-chain data shows that mass amounts of bitcoin is flowing from Binance to Coinbase. Binance’s bitcoin reserves have dropped by 5,000 BTC ($187 million). Meanwhile, Coinbase’s reserves are up by 12,000 BTC ($450 million).
Binance has historically used its bitcoin reserves to prop up the price of its proprietary token, BNB, according to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and several crypto analysts. Both CZ and Binance vehemently deny the claims.
The price of BNB took a -14% plunge following news of the settlement and CZ’s resignation, from $264 to $227. At press time, it sits at $233 — down 20% compared to this time last year.
CZ controls a substantial percentage of BNB’s $35 billion market cap. His recent $4 billion deal settled several US agency charges Binance faced — but the SEC’s wash trading charges remain up in the air.
Protos analysis has shown discrepencies in the amount of BNB held by Binance in its ‘proof-of-reserves,’ suggesting the crypto exchange has held far more than it cared to admit.
CZ faces US detainment amid Binance bitcoin shedding
US prosecutors are pushing for CZ to be detained in the country, rather than allowing him to return to his home inn Dubai until his February sentencing. The former CEO is expected to face up to 18 months in prison for his role in failing to implement proper anti-money laundering checks.
The 46-year-old paid a $175 million release bond following his guilty plea. However, prosecutors argue that CZ poses an “unacceptable” flight risk — if he’s allowed to leave the US he may not return, and the government “would not be able to secure his return.” The US and the UAE do not have an extradition treaty.
“Zhao’s significant assets and strong ties to the UAE, as well as the government’s inability to extradite him from the UAE, favor a ruling from this court that he be required to remain in the United States until his sentencing on February 23, 2024,” prosecutors said.
Moreover, the vast majority of CZ’s wealth is not in the US — providing CZ with little incentive to return. And the $175 million bond he paid is mostly inaccessible to the government, the motion argued.