Bankman-Fried Deserves Up To 50 Years In Jail, Prosecutors Say

Prosecutors said disgraced cryptocurrency boss Sam Bankman-Fried should be sentenced to 40 to 50 years in prison for his role in the collapse of the exchange FTX in “what is likely the largest fraud of the last decade”.

Bankman-Fried’s “historic” crime involved more than 1 million victims and losses of more than $10 billion (£7.8bn), they said in a court filing late on Friday.

The recommendation is far less than the 100 years recommended in US criminal sentencing guidelines, but far greater than the 6 1/2 years suggested by Bankman-Fried’s own lawyers.

The FTX co-founder and former chief executive is scheduled to be sentenced in Manhattan federal court on 28 March following his conviction in November on charges including fraud and conspiracy.

Image credit: Ivan Babydov/Pexels

‘Lengthy sentence’

He was extradited from the Bahamas to the US in December 2022, a month after the collapse of his companies FTX and Alameda Research, and was originally permitted to remain at home with his parents in Palo Alto, California.

But last August Judge Lewis A. Kaplan ordered him locked up after Bankman-Fried leaked to The New York Times parts of a diary written by Caroline Ellison, the former chief executive of Alameda Research and Bankman-Fried’s ex-girlfriend, who had pleaded guilty for related crimes and was cooperating with prosecutors.

At the time Kaplan said he was “someone who has shown a willingness and a desire to risk crossing the line in an effort to get right up to it no matter where the line is”.

“The defendant victimised tens of thousands of people and companies, across several continents, over a period of multiple years,” prosecutors said.

“He stole money from customers who entrusted it to him; he lied to investors; he sent fabricated documents to lenders; he pumped millions of dollars in illegal donations into our political system; and he bribed foreign officials. Each of these crimes is worthy of a lengthy sentence.

‘Grotesque’

“Even following FTX’s bankruptcy and his subsequent arrest, Bankman-Fried shirked responsibility, deflected blame to market events and other individuals, attempted to tamper with witnesses, and lied repeatedly under oath.”

Earlier this month Bankman-Fried’s lawyers said a probation office recommendation that their client spend 100 years behind bars was “grotesque” and “barbaric”.

In their sentencing memo they cited their client’s medical conditions, including autism, as well as his altruistic motives and “commitment to the world”, according to the Wall Street Journal.

In an op-ed piece in the WSJ last week, Key Square Capital Management chief executive Scott Bessent said their arguments actually support a longer sentence as they indicate Bankman-Fried has learned nothing from his conviction.

“History teaches us that the greatest crimes are committed by those who believe they are mankind’s benefactors,” he wrote.

Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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