The wealth of the crypto exchange Binance’s co-founder and former CEO, Changpeng Zhao (CZ), has grown by almost $25B in 2023. This significant increase occurred despite the legal challenges the famous crypto entrepreneur faced this year. CZ’s fortune, mainly derived from his controlling stake in Binance, is currently valued at more than $37B.
The $25B growth has made CZ the crypto entrepreneur with the highest increase in his wealth, although his current fortune is significantly below its peak of nearly $97B at the beginning of 2022 and this year’s high of $50.4B. Despite the financial success, CZ had to step down from the CEO position at Binance in November after pleading guilty to violating anti-money laundering requirements and U.S. sanctions by allowing terrorist groups to make crypto transactions on Binance. As part of the plea deal, the former CEO was ordered to pay a $50M penalty and prohibited from engaging in Binance’s management for three years.
At the time, Binance, the largest crypto exchange by trading volume, also agreed to pay a $4.3B fine to settle U.S. authorities’ money laundering, unlicensed money-transmitting business operations, and sanction violations charges. Zhao currently faces up to 10 years in prison, though he is expected to get no more than 18 months under a settlement agreement. The former CEO’s sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 23.
Rival crypto exchange Coinbase’s CEO Brian Armstrong has also seen a $5.8B increase in his wealth to $7.2B this year, while the co-founder Fred Ehrsam’s fortune has surged by $1.8B to nearly $2.5B in 2023. Similarly, Gemini’s twin co-founders, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, have each experienced a $1.4B growth to $2.7B in their wealth. The U.S.-based crypto conglomerate Digital Currency Group’s (DCG) founder, Barry Silbert, has managed to grow his fortune by $1.5B to $2B.”