SEATTLE (NEWSnet/AP) — Former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao was sentenced Tuesday to four months in prison for allowing money laundering on the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange.

Zhao pleaded guilty in November to one count of failing to take required anti-money-laundering measures and stepped down as Binance agreed to pay $4.3 billion to settle related allegations.

U.S. officials said Zhao deliberately looked the other way as people conducted transactions that supported child sex abuse, the illegal drug trade and terrorism.

The three-year prison term prosecutors sought was more than twice the guideline range for the crime. If he didn’t receive time in custody for the offense, no one would, rendering the law toothless, they argued.

Binance allowed more than 1.5 million virtual currency trades, totaling nearly $900 million, that violated U.S. sanctions, including ones involving Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades, al-Qaeda and Iran.

No one has ever been sentenced to prison time for similar violations of the Bank Secrecy Act, defense attorneys Mark Bartlett and William Burck told the judge Tuesday, and Zhao began making changes to make Binance a model of compliance with banking transparency regulations before stepping down.

Zhao was perhaps best known as the chief rival to Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of the FTX, which was the second-largest crypto exchange before it collapsed in 2022. Bankman-Fried was convicted last November of fraud for stealing at least $10 billion from customers and investors and sentenced to 25 years in prison.

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