Former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao’s Wealth Surged by $25 Billion Despite Legal Troubles in 2023
Source: A video screenshot, Youtube/Entrepreneur ME
Former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao has seen his estimated wealth jump by almost $25 billion in 2023 despite his guilty plea to US criminal charges in November, which may result in his imprisonment next year.
CZ’s remarkable financial growth places him at the top of the list of crypto entrepreneurs whose net worth saw a substantial increase this year, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Other prominent figures in the crypto industry, such as Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong and the Winklevoss twins, also witnessed billions of dollars added to their fortunes.
The surge in wealth for CZ, who founded and holds a controlling stake in Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, is more than five times the size of the $4.3 billion in fines that Binance agreed to pay to US authorities.
Despite losing some market share this year, Binance benefited from the increased trading volumes that accompanied the rebound in the crypto markets.
CZ’s fortune, currently estimated at over $37 billion, is derived from his ownership in Binance, as well as his holdings of Bitcoin and Binance’s own coin, BNB.
In November, CZ and Binance pleaded guilty to anti-money laundering and US sanctions violations as part of a sweeping settlement with US authorities.
The agreement allows Binance to continue operating, but CZ agreed to pay a personal fine of $50 million and step down as CEO.
However, he will retain his ownership stake in the exchange.
While CZ potentially faces up to 10 years in prison, the plea deal is expected to result in a maximum sentence of 18 months.
The exact length of his term will be determined by the Justice Department, with his sentencing scheduled for February 23.
Despite CZ’s significant wealth surge in 2023, it is worth noting that his net worth is still far from its peak of nearly $97 billion at the beginning of 2022.
It has also experienced a decline from its year-to-date high of $50.4 billion in July, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Crypto Billionaires Benefit From Market Rebound
CZ is not the only billionaire to have benefited from the crypto market rebound in 2023.
Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong saw his wealth rise by $5.8 billion year-to-date, reaching $7.2 billion.
Coinbase’s shares have surged nearly 400% this year, and Armstrong holds approximately a 16% stake in the company.
Fred Ehrsam, co-founder of Coinbase, also experienced a surge in his estimated wealth by $1.8 billion, reaching a total of about $2.5 billion.
However, Coinbase is currently facing a lawsuit from the SEC for allegedly operating as an unregistered securities exchange.
The Winklevoss twins, Tyler and Cameron, co-founders of the Gemini Trust crypto exchange, saw their wealth increase by $1.4 billion each in 2023, reaching $2.7 billion each.
They have been embroiled in legal battles with crypto lender Genesis and the New York Attorney General.
Additionally, Barry Silbert, founder of Digital Currency Group (DCG), witnessed a growth in his wealth by $1.5 billion this year, reaching an estimated $2 billion.
In contrast, Sam Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of FTX, currently imprisoned for massive fraud, saw his estimated net worth remain at $0 after peaking at $25.9 billion in March last year.
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