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Changpeng Zhao, the founder of Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, became the first American crypto billionaire to be imprisoned.

A Seattle court sentenced the 47-year-old to four months in prison earlier this month after he pleaded guilty to violating US anti-money laundering and sanctions laws.

This sentence makes Zhao a unique case. Despite his incarceration, he remains the richest person ever to be imprisoned, with a net worth estimated at a staggering $43 billion. This also marks the second major crypto executive to be imprisoned, following Sam Bankman-Fried of FTX who received a 25-year sentence (though he is appealing).

Changpeng Zhao, Founder of Binance, Becomes America’s First Imprisoned Crypto Billionaire

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Interestingly, Bloomberg reported that Zhao’s wealth might even increase during his prison stint due to the ongoing crypto bull run. Additionally, while he stepped down as CEO, Zhao reportedly retains a significant stake (around 90%) in Binance, with close associates holding positions on the board.

Judge Richard Jones acknowledged the severity of the case but ultimately sentenced Zhao to a shorter term than prosecutors requested. Federal guidelines suggested a maximum of one and a half years. This sentence falls far short of Bankman-Fried’s 25 years, although it remains to be seen if either sentence will stand.

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