The cryptocurrency empire led by Binance’s CEO, Changpeng Zhao, has witnessed a staggering decline of over 80% since its peak in January 2022, when it was valued at nearly $97 billion.
Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, the co-founder and CEO of Binance, has experienced a sharp reduction in his net worth, amounting to a staggering $11.9 billion. This decline can be attributed to a noticeable decrease in trading activity on his exchange.
On the 26th of October, the Bloomberg Billionaires Index revised its revenue projections for Binance, slashing them by 38%. This adjustment was prompted by a significant drop in exchange volumes, leading to Zhao’s descent to the 95th position on the list of the world’s wealthiest individuals.
Zhao’s net worth currently stands at a meager $17.3 billion, representing an 82% plunge from its zenith of $96.9 billion in January 2022 when he was ranked as the 11th richest person globally.
Even Binance.US, the American branch of Binance, witnessed a considerable decline in trading volumes in the past month, adding to the company’s woes.
This erosion in Zhao’s wealth and Binance’s diminishing trading volumes can be traced back to the double legal challenges posed by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
In June, the SEC initiated a lawsuit against Zhao, Binance, and Binance.US, alleging illicit operations, sale of unregistered securities, and mismanagement of customer assets, with Zhao identified as the “controlling person” in the lawsuit.
In March, the CFTC filed its own suit, contending that Binance had failed to properly register with the regulatory body. Both Zhao and Binance vehemently reject the allegations from both regulatory bodies and are actively seeking to have the lawsuits dismissed.
The recent decline in fortunes pales in comparison to the fate of CZ’s former rival, Sam Bankman-Fried. In November 2022, FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange, disclosed a liquidity crisis just days before declaring bankruptcy, effectively wiping out Bankman-Fried’s $16-billion fortune.
Some speculate that the crisis was triggered by a tweet from Zhao himself, in which he announced the sale of Binance’s FTX Token (FTT) holdings. This announcement sparked a wave of withdrawals from FTX. Initially, Zhao expressed interest in acquiring the beleaguered exchange but withdrew his bid less than 48 hours later.
Bankman-Fried recently took the witness stand in his own criminal trial on October 26th. He had previously pleaded not guilty to two counts of fraud and five counts of conspiracy.