Former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao Still Worth $15 Billion Despite Guilty Plea: Forbes

Ruholamin Haqshanas
Last updated: | 2 min read
Source: X / @cz_binance

Former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, commonly known as CZ, is still worth $15 billion despite recently pleading guilty to federal money laundering charges.

On Tuesday, the crypto boss acknowledged his violation of US regulations and evasion of sanctions laws in his pursuit of crypto market dominance.

Despite this guilty plea, CZ retains his majority stake in Binance, positioning him as one of the wealthiest convicted felons globally and unquestionably the richest person in the cryptocurrency industry.

Forbes estimates that CZ’s approximate 90% stake in Binance, which constitutes the majority of his wealth, is now valued at around $15 billion. 

This figure represents an increase from $10.5 billion in April, as reported in Forbes’ 2023 World’s Billionaires list. 

Binance Generated $3 Billion in Revenue in Last Year

Over the past year, Binance has generated revenue exceeding $3 billion, according to Forbes’ analysis of the exchange’s spot and derivatives trading volumes tracked by CoinGecko. 

The resurgence of the cryptocurrency market has contributed to Binance’s valuation. 

Bitcoin, a key indicator of the industry’s performance, has more than doubled in value this year, reaching $36,500 as crypto markets rebounded following FTX’s collapse. 

Shares of Binance’s competitor, Coinbase, have tripled since the beginning of the year. 

Collectively, major cryptocurrencies have gained $600 billion in market value in 2023.

Nonetheless, Binance now faces a distinct reality as an independent compliance monitor will oversee its operations for three years and report findings to the US government. 

These constraints may potentially impact Binance’s revenue and jeopardize its status as the leading global cryptocurrency exchange.

Binance’s ability to maintain its market share will significantly influence CZ’s fortune. 

In October, Binance facilitated 32% of spot trades and 50% of derivatives trades, as reported by CCData. However, its share in spot markets has steadily declined for eight consecutive months.

Plea Deal Could Help Binance Win Back Customer Trust

It is worth noting that the recent plea deal could alleviate some of the uncertainties surrounding Binance, potentially attracting back individuals who were concerned about the company’s legal situation. 

“People concerned by the prosecutors have left [Binance] already. Today’s announcement gives them some comfort that they can come back,” Owen Lau, a crypto and financial exchange analyst at Oppenheimer & Co., told Forbes.

“To me, it could have some positive effect on Binance. The super downside – that Binance becomes a dead business – has not played out. They’re still operational.”

As reported, new Binance CEO Richard Teng has hinted at the exchange’s ability to pay the $4.3 billion it has been fined by the US Justice Department. 

Teng, who was named CEO of Binance on Tuesday after Changpeng Zhao stepped down, said in a recent post on X (formerly Twitter) that the exchange is in good shape financially. 

The statement came in reply to a post by Connor Lango, director of business development at Coinbase, who said Binance will most likely be able to “pay full $4.3B DoJ fine with 0 crypto asset sales.”