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Crypto lawyer wants to depose Changpeng Zhao for civil case

The Moskowitz Law Firm, which represented many crypto investors in class-action lawsuits, cited the former Binance CEO’s “unique knowledge” of issues in calling for his deposition.

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Adam Moskowitz, who has been the lead attorney in a number of civil cases involving crypto firms, filed a motion to take a deposition from former Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao.

In a Dec. 8 filing in United States District Court for the Southern District of Flordia Miami Division, Moskowitz said Zhao’s testimony would be “crucial to the claims and defenses of all parties” involved. The law firm filed the motion as part of a $1 billion lawsuit against Zhao, Binance, and crypto influencers, which a court ordered stayed in August.

Moskowitz and his firm have represented several clients in cases against high-profile crypto firms and related entities. He was counsel for many victims of the collapse of FTX in a lawsuit targeting celebrities who promoted the crypto exchange, as well as a suit claiming investors suffered losses from soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo touting Binance’s nonfungible tokens.

“Typically, because CZ is a named defendant, we would just send a notice for his deposition,” Moskowitz told Cointelegraph. “In our case, we all agreed to wait on discovery, until the judge rules on Binance’s demand that we litigate our class action before the AAA arbitration association. Regardless [of] where we end up, CZ’s testimony will be crucial for all parties.”

The crypto lawyer said the filing came in response to a Washington judge ordering Zhao to remain in the U.S. until his sentencing in February 2024. In November, U.S. authorities announced a $4.3 billion settlement with Binance in which CZ stepped down as CEO and pleaded guilty to one felony charge.

“[W]e have no idea how long CZ will be sentenced to prison, could be 60 years or no years, we were certainly not involved in the discussions between CZ and the government,” said Moskowitz. “If he gets no jail time, he certainly flees back to UAE. If he gets jail time, it is not easy to arrange and require a deposition from prison.”

Related: Binance says decision to pull Abu Dhabi licensing bid unrelated to US settlement

According to Moskowitz, Zhao’s pleading guilty to federal charges, which alleged a lack of safeguards during his time as Binance CEO, could support some of the plaintiffs’ claims in the civil suit. The case alleged Binance promoted unregistered securities, though the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission — the body overseeing securities — was not a party to the settlement with Zhao, Binance, and the government.

He added:

“The SEC certainly has not slowed down their own litigation vs. CZ and Binance and still allege that the BNB token is an unregistered security, so there are $4 billion in alleged values, that really could be zero in one minute.”

It’s unclear whether a judge will grant Moskowitz’s motion given Zhao is no longer CEO of Binance and has stepped back from its leadership. Cointelegraph reached out to Binance, but did not receive a response at the time of publication.

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This article first appeared at News

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