The former Binance CEO’s current net worth is estimated at $2.5 billion, up from $2.3 billion in February.
Even though Changpeng Zhao is facing up to five years in prison for his role in a securities fraud scheme, this has not stopped his meteoric rise to billionaire status.
Bloomberg’s Billionaires Index reports that Changpeng Zhao’s net worth has jumped by almost $25 billion in the past 2023, making him the biggest gainer in the crypto industry this year.
Despite his guilty plea to US criminal charges in November, which may result in his imprisonment next year, the former Binance CEO’s current net worth is estimated at $2.5 billion.
This impressive figure is up from $2.3 billion in February, making him the biggest gainer.
Crypto industry leaders such as Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong and the Winklevoss twins also saw their fortunes soar as billions of dollars were added to their net worth.
The surge in wealth for CZ, who founded and controls Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, was 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 has 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.
Despite the looming prison sentence, CZ is expected to retain his ownership stake in the exchange. The plea deal is also expected to result in a maximum sentence of 18 months, although the exact length of his term will be determined by the Justice Department.
With his sentencing scheduled for February 23, CZ’s net worth is still far from its peak of nearly $97 billion at the beginning of 2022.
Crypto Billionaires Benefit From Market Rebound
The crypto market rebound in 2023 has not only benefitted CZ, but also other billionaires such as Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong and co-founder Fred Ehrsam.
Armstrong’s wealth has surged by $5.8 billion this year, reaching $7.2 billion. Coinbase’s shares have surged nearly 400%, and Armstrong holds approximately a 16% stake in the company.
Ehrsam’s wealth has also increased by $1.8 billion, reaching a total of $2.5 billion.
What do the Winklevoss twins, Tyler and Cameron, and Barry Silbert, founder of Digital Currency Group (DCG), have in common?
They are all some of the richest people in the crypto world. 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.
Additionally, Barry Silbert, founder of DCG, witnessed a growth in his wealth by $1.5 billion this year, reaching an estimated $2 billion.
All of these individuals are major players in the crypto world and are continuing to make a fortune from it.
Binance Saga May Be Over But CZ’s Legal Woes Continue
In November, Zhao and Binance admitted guilt to charges of anti-money laundering and violating US sanctions in a comprehensive agreement with the US government.
This settlement allows Binance to continue its operations. Under the terms, Zhao agreed to pay a personal fine of $50 million and to resign as CEO, while retaining his ownership stake in the exchange.
Zhao, who could face up to 10 years in prison, is likely to receive a reduced sentence of 18 months or less.
The Justice Department is still undecided on the exact sentence length for Zhao. In a recent ruling, a federal judge in Seattle decided that Zhao must stay in the United States and cannot return to his residence in the United Arab Emirates.
Zhao’s sentencing is set for February 23. This isn’t the only story of someone profiting from the 2023 crypto market rebound.