The fallen kings of cryptocurrencies | Guardian Nigeria News

Binance boss Qiao Changpeng has become the most powerful figure in crypto over two years of turmoil, even by the standards of an industry that is notoriously volatile.

Chao resigned as CEO of Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, after pleading guilty on Tuesday to widespread money laundering violations in the United States and agreeing to a fine of more than $4 billion.

Here are three of the most high-profile crypto executives who have broken the law since last year.

– Zhao Changpeng “CZ” –
Mr. Chao was born in China in 1977, immigrated to Canada with his family in the 1980s, and later earned a degree in computer science from McGill University, according to his profile on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

He founded Binance in Shanghai in 2017 and has explosively grown the company into the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange.

Chao, an outspoken celebrity in the crypto world with 8.7 million followers on X, has become known as the richest man in the emerging industry. According to the Forbes index, his net worth reached approximately $65 billion in 2022.

Binance’s operations have come under even more scrutiny as prominent crypto companies around the world, along with fame and fortune, have begun to succumb to a wave of criminal investigations.

The United States has accused Chao and Binance of multiple violations, including knowingly allowing transactions with armed groups such as the Islamic State and prohibited jurisdictions such as North Korea and Iran.

They pleaded guilty Tuesday. The company has agreed to pay fines totaling about $4.4 billion, and he will pay $50 million, according to court documents.

Chao is reportedly stepping down as CEO of Binance and will keep his shares in the company, but is prohibited from being involved in the company’s business. He will be sentenced later.

Forbes listed his net worth as $10.2 billion as of Wednesday.

– Sam Bankman Freed –
If Chao is the richest and most powerful man in the crypto industry, Sam Bankman Freed is arguably the most famous.

Born into a family of Stanford University professors, Bankman Fried graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a degree in physics.

In 2019, he founded FTX, which quickly grew to become the world’s second-largest cryptocurrency exchange.

Along the way, Bankman Freed has built an image as an unofficial ambassador for the crypto industry, making appearances in the media and even on the US Congress.

At one point in 2022, his net worth was $24 billion, according to Forbes.

But he was on a dangerous path. His team used clients’ money for everything from buying luxury real estate to covering risky moves by affiliate company Alameda Research.

When these moves were revealed in the media in November 2022, everything fell apart. Within hours, rival CZ Zhao announced that Binance would sell all FTX tokens it held.

It caused the stunning collapse of FTX and Bankman Freed’s empire, and his fame turned to infamy.

He was arrested in the Bahamas in January and convicted this month of what U.S. prosecutors described as “one of the largest financial frauds in U.S. history.” He could be sentenced to up to 110 years in prison.

During the trial, the 31-year-old admitted he had made a “mistake” but denied trying to defraud anyone.

– Do Kwon –
South Korean entrepreneur Do Kwon co-founded Terraform Labs in 2018 and developed the cryptocurrencies TerraUSD and Luna.

The Stanford University graduate has successfully promoted them as the next big thing in cryptocurrencies, attracting billions of dollars in investment and global hype.

Korean media reports described him as a “genius”.

But last May, the value of these currencies, which were sold as “stablecoins,” plummeted, wiping out around $40 billion in investments and sending shockwaves through the industry.

This led to more than $500 billion in additional losses in the global cryptocurrency market, according to industry data.

Experts said Do Kwon (full name Kwon Do-kyung) was promoting a glorified pyramid scheme.

Do Kwon, who was brash and outspoken on social media, left South Korea before the collapse and lived as a fugitive for several months.

He was arrested this year in Montenegro as he tried to board a flight using fake Costa Rican travel documents.

He faces multiple criminal charges in the United States and South Korea.


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