Changpeng Zhao, famously known as CZ and the ex-CEO of Binance, is bracing for a potential stint in prison, Bloomberg reports.
After securing a plea agreement, Zhao could be confined for up to 18 months, a stark contrast to the stiffer penalties faced by other crypto figures. He is still facing up to 10 years in prison, but such a scenario is unlikely.
In the meantime, CZ’s personal wealth has skyrocketed by almost $25 billion to $37 billion in 2023 despite his legal woes.
BNB defies odds amid legal turmoil
In an unexpected display of market defiance, Binance’s native token, BNB, has surged by over 11% in just 24 hours.
The rise comes against the backdrop of CZ stepping down amid U.S. Department of Justice charges earlier this year.
Nevertheless, the digital token’s market cap has ballooned to $46 billion.
CZ, keeping in tune with his style, took to social media declaring that BNB needs no CEO to prosper, shortly after the news broke about his resignation.
After being surpassed by red-hot Solana (SOL), BNB remains in fifth place by market capitalization.
Crypto’s 2023 winners
While CZ’s legal narrative unfolds, 2023 has been a year of financial windfalls for several crypto bigwigs. Brian Armstrong of Coinbase saw his net worth jump to $7.2 billion, riding on a nearly 400% rally in Coinbase shares. Fred Ehrsam, also of Coinbase, added $1.8 billion to his fortune.
The Winklevoss twins, Cameron and Tyler, each grew their wealth by $1.4 billion amid tumultuous legal battles.
On the flip side, DCG’s Barry Silbert saw a more modest increase in his wealth, despite corporate restructuring and legal challenges.
In contrast, the crypto community witnessed the continuation of the dramatic downfall of Sam Bankman-Fried, the once-celebrated FTX CEO. He is now facing a lengthy prison sentence after being convicted in November.