- Zhao is at the top of a list of crypto entrepreneurs to have experienced a significant increase in net worth.
- CZ’s wealth growth of over $25 billion exceeds the penalties imposed on the exchange.
- Binance settlement and the potential approval of Bitcoin spot exchange-traded funds (ETFs) by the SEC contribute to CZ’s growing wealth.
- Zhao is expected to receive a less severe sentence than other top figures in crypto-related crimes.
Former Binance CEO, Changpeng Zhao, famously referred to as CZ, could potentially be sentenced to prison in 2024 following his admission of guilt to US criminal charges in November, as per a Bloomberg article.
Nevertheless, the year 2023 presented a positive development for the ex-chief Executive Officer of Binance Holdings, as his purported net worth reportedly surged by an impressive $25 billion.
Despite Binance Legal Hurdles, CZ’s Net Worth Soares
Thanks to the remarkable surge of Bitcoin (BTC) in 2023. As per the report, CZ tops the list of crypto entrepreneurs who have witnessed a substantial boost in their wealth.
Despite Binance’s agreement to pay $4.3 billion in fines to US authorities, CZ managed to exceed the exchange’s penalties, with his net worth spiking over $25 billion in 2023.
With an estimated worth of over $37 billion, CZ’s wealth primarily comes from his significant ownership in Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange worldwide, which he established.
In November, both Zhao and Binance admitted guilty to breaching anti-money laundering measures and US sanctions, resolving the matter with a comprehensive settlement that permits the exchange to remain operational.
As per the agreement, Zhao consented to a personal fine of $50 million and voluntarily stepped down as CEO, while still maintaining his ownership share in the exchange.
Zhao, who could face a prison term of up to 10 years, may be able to reduce his sentence to a maximum of 18 months through a plea deal. This deal could protect him from the harsher punishments that have been handed out to other notable figures accused of cryptocurrency-related offenses.
Despite the considerable increase in wealth in 2023, Zhao’s net worth is still notably lower than its peak of nearly $97 billion at the start of 2022. Additionally, it has decreased from its year-to-date high of $50.4 billion in July, as reported by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
Crypto Industry Titans Also Reap Billions
Other well-known individuals in the crypto industry have also experienced a growth in their wealth, thanks to the positive market sentiment, the resolution of the Binance settlement, and the potential approval of Bitcoin spot exchange-traded funds (ETFs) by the SEC. Thus, Zhao is not the only billionaire benefiting from the crypto rebound in 2023.
Bloomberg reports that Brian Armstrong, the CEO of Coinbase Global Inc., has witnessed a remarkable increase in his fortune this year, with a $5.8 billion rise to reach a total of $7.2 billion.
This surge in wealth can be attributed to the substantial growth of Coinbase’s shares, which have soared by roughly 400% in 2023. Armstrong holds an estimated 16% stake in the company.
Moreover, Fred Ehrsam, who co-founded Coinbase, has also experienced significant wealth growth, accumulating an additional $1.8 billion this year. As a result, his estimated wealth now stands at around $2.5 billion.
According to Bloomberg, the net worth of the Winklevoss twins, co-founders of Gemini Trust crypto exchange and prominent holders of Bitcoin, has surged to $2.7 billion for each of them, resulting in a significant increase of $1.4 billion individually.
Conversely, Sam Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of FTX crypto exchange who is currently incarcerated for a major fraud conviction, had a net worth of $0, as estimated. It is worth noting that Bankman-Fried experienced a peak net worth of $25.9 billion in the previous year before facing legal consequences.
The 2023 crypto market rebound has benefitted more than just Zhao. This resurgence is a result of multiple factors, including the resolution of the Binance case, which has alleviated considerable uncertainty in the market.
Additionally, the increasing optimism regarding the eventual authorization of exchange-traded funds by the US, directly investing in Bitcoin, has further contributed to this surge.
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