Fortunes of CZ, Winklevoss, Coinbase CEO soar in 2023: SBF at $0

abdelaziz Fathi

Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, the founder of Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, has seen a dramatic increase in his wealth in 2023, as reported by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Despite pleading guilty to U.S. criminal charges, Zhao’s fortune has soared by almost $25 billion this year, even as his holdings in Bitcoin and Binance’s own coin, BNB, are not included in this valuation.

Zhao’s wealth, now estimated at over $37 billion, ranks him as the 35th richest person globally. This increase is primarily attributed to his controlling stake in Binance. However, this figure remains well below its peak of nearly $97 billion in early 2022. It also dropped from the year-to-date high of $50.4 billion five months ago.

The increase in Zhao’s wealth comes amidst a broader resurgence in the cryptocurrency market. Bitcoin rebounded by over 160% following a market collapse in 2022, which favorably impacted the fortunes of several prominent figures in the industry.

In November, Binance pleaded guilty to anti-money laundering and sanctions violations, agreeing to a settlement with the U.S. authorities. As part of this settlement, the crypto giant will pay a $4.3 billion fine, and Zhao has agreed to pay a personal fine of $50 million.

Despite the legal challenges, Zhao retains his ownership stake in Binance. He is currently scheduled for sentencing on February 23 and could face up to 18 months in prison.

The cryptocurrency market’s rebound in 2023 has benefited other industry leaders as well. Coinbase Global CEO Brian Armstrong’s wealth has risen by $5.8 billion, reaching $7.2 billion. Coinbase’s shares surged by almost 400% in 2023.

Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, co-founders of the Gemini Trust crypto exchange, each gained $1.4 billion, taking their wealth to $2.7 billion. Gemini has been embroiled in a legal battle with the crypto lender Genesis and the Digital Currency Group, alongside facing a lawsuit from the New York Attorney General.

Barry Silbert, founder of Digital Currency Group, also saw his wealth grow by $1.5 billion to an estimated $2 billion. DCG has been restructuring, following the bankruptcy filing of its subsidiary Genesis.

In contrast, Sam Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of FTX, who has been convicted of massive fraud, maintains an estimated net worth of $0, a significant drop from his peak wealth of $25.9 billion.

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