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Zhao Changpeng, Sam Bankman-Fried and Do Kwon: The fallen kings of crypto

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SEOUL: Binance boss Zhao Changpeng has become the most powerful cryptocurrency figure to fall in a two-year period chaotic even by the standards of the notoriously volatile industry.Zhao stepped down as CEO of Binance - the largest crypto exchange in the world - after he and the company pleaded guilty on Tuesday (Nov 21) to sweeping US money laundering violations and agreed to fines of more than US$4 billion.Here are three of the highest-profile crypto executives who have fallen foul of the law since last year:Born in China in 1977, Zhao moved with his family to Canada in the 1980s and later got a degree in computer science from McGill University, according to his profile in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.He founded Binance in 2017 in Shanghai, and led the company's explosive growth into the world's biggest cryptocurrency exchange.An outspoken celebrity in the crypto world with 8.7 million followers on X, Zhao became the richest known figure in the nascent industry.

His net worth peaked at around US$65 billion in 2022, according to a Forbes index.With the prestige and wealth came increased scrutiny of Binance's operations, as prominent crypto firms around the world began to buckle under a wave of criminal investigations.The United States accused Zhao and Binance of multiple violations, including knowingly allowing transactions to militant groups such as the Islamic State and in barred jurisdictions such as North Korea and Iran.On Tuesday, they pleaded guilty.

The firm has agreed to total penalties of nearly US$4.4 billion, while he will pay US$50 million, according to court documents.Zhao resigned as CEO of Binance and while he will reportedly retain his shares in the company, he has been banned from any involvement in its business.

He is expected to face sentencing later.Forbes listed his net worth as US$10.2 billion as of Wednesday.If Zhao was the richest and most powerful person in crypto, Sam Bankman-Fried was easily the most famous.Born to Stanford University

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