Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao Steps Down, Richard Teng Poised to Lead

November 22, 2023

By Sharan Kaur Phillora and Tsering Namgyal

Changpeng Zhao, the influential CEO of Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, has stepped down from his role and pleaded guilty to U.S. anti-money laundering charges. This historic move comes as part of a $4.3 billion settlement with U.S. authorities. 

Here’s what we know:

Zhao’s decision, which includes a personal payment of $50 million, marks a significant turn in the crypto industry, still reeling from the fraud conviction of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried.

Zhao’s departure follows Binance’s violation of U.S. anti-money laundering and sanctions laws, including failing to report over 100,000 suspicious transactions linked to terrorist groups and other illegal activities. 

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland criticized the firm for making it “easy for criminals to move their stolen funds and illicit proceeds on its exchanges” and pretending to comply with federal laws.

In a statement, Zhao acknowledged his departure, stating, “I made mistakes, and I must take responsibility. This is best for our community, for Binance, and for myself.” His exit raises questions about the future of Binance, which he tightly controlled since its founding in 2017.

Richard Teng, a longtime Binance executive known for his focus on regulation and compliance, will succeed Zhao. Teng’s background includes significant roles in financial regulation, having previously led the Financial Services Regulatory Authority at Abu Dhabi Global Markets and served in the Monetary Authority of Singapore. 

His appointment is seen as a strategic move, aligning with Binance’s recent focus on enhancing regulatory compliance amid increasing scrutiny.

Binance, in a statement, acknowledged its responsibility for historical compliance violations and expressed its intent to turn a new page under Teng’s leadership. Teng emphasized his commitment to reassuring users about the financial strength, security, and safety of the company in this new era for Binance.

“With CZ, and our leadership team’s support, I have accepted this role so that we can continue to meet and exceed the expectations of stakeholders while achieving our core mission, the freedom of money,” Teng wrote on his LinkedIn page.

“The foundation on which Binance stands today is stronger than ever,” he added. “To ensure a bright future, I intend to use everything I’ve learned over the past three decades of financial services and regulatory experience to guide our remarkable, innovative, and committed team.”

He further said in his post that his focus will be on:
1) reassuring users that they can remain confident in the financial strength, security and safety of the company
2) collaborating with regulators to uphold high standards globally that foster innovation while providing important consumer protections
3) working with partners to drive growth and adoption of Web3

About the authors

Sharan Kaur Phillora’s thirst for knowledge has led her to study many different subjects, including NFTs and Blockchain technology – two emerging technologies that will change how we interact with each other in the future. When she isn’t exploring a new idea or concept, she enjoys reading literary masterpieces.

Tsering Namgyal is the chief content officer of

CZ issued an internal letter stating:

Thank you all for your warm, caring, touching words, and more importantly for keeping this ship flying. Since I receive so many messages right now, I can’t reply to them all. So, let me talk about it here.

It was certainly a difficult day for me, going through this unfamiliar process with complete (12 hour) time difference and being in court without access to my phone for most of the day. I pre-wrote this tweet at 4am. Between all the other long legal documents I had to review, I didn’t really have time to write an internal memo up front. I think our communications team does a great job. I won’t repeat what has already been said. I just want to say how proud I am of your work today, past and future. Binance will be fine. I’m going to have to endure some pain, but I’m going to survive. Although there will be some structural changes, we will get through this. Looking back a few years later, that might not have been such a bad thing. I need a break anyway. Now I understand, you have to keep working hard and don’t complain that I’m lazy. To lighten the mood a bit, this famous phrase/clip from Star Trek (2009) popped into my head. “I need everyone to continue to do well.” It’s a good movie if you haven’t seen it. Please help Richard transition to his new role. We’ll meet at the conference, where I’ll say a few words and then hand it over to Richard.


感谢大家温暖、关怀、感动的话语,更重要的是让这艘船一直在飞翔。 由于现在收到的消息太多,我无法一一回复。 那么,我就在这里说一下吧。

对我来说,这肯定是艰难的一天,在完全(12小时)时差的情况下经历这个陌生的过程,并且在法庭上一天大部分时间都无法使用手机。我在凌晨 4 点预先写了这条推文。 在我必须审阅的所有其他长法律文件中,我真的没有时间预先写一份内部备忘录。我认为我们的通讯团队做得很好。 我不会重复已经说过的话。我只想说,我为你们今天、过去和未来的工作感到自豪。

币安会没事的。 我将不得不承受一些痛苦,但我会活下去。 尽管结构会发生一些变化,但我们会渡过难关。 几年后回想起来,这也许并不是一件坏事。 无论如何我需要休息一下。 现在我明白了,你们要继续努力,不要抱怨我懒。为了稍微放松一下心情,《星际迷航》(2009)中的这句著名短语/剪辑跳进了我的脑海。 “我需要每个人继续表现出色。” 如果你没看过的话,这是一部好电影。请帮助 Richard 过渡到他的新角色。 我们在大会见,我会在那里说几句话,然后将其交给 Richard。

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