Fallen crypto tycoon sentenced to 25 years in jail

Published March 29, 2024
FTX’s former CEO and founder Sam Bankman-Fried testifies during a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee at Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill December 8, 2021 in Washington, DC.—AFP/file
FTX’s former CEO and founder Sam Bankman-Fried testifies during a hearing before the House Financial Services Committee at Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill December 8, 2021 in Washington, DC.—AFP/file

NEW YORK: Disgraced cryptocurrency wunderkind Sam Bankman-Fried was sentenced to 25 years in jail on Thursday following his conviction in one of the biggest financial fraud cases in history.

US prosecutors were seeking a prison term of 40-50 years after a New York jury found Bankman-Fried, known by his initials SBF, guilty in November following a five-week trial that probed the one-time high roller’s spectacular fall.

During the hearing Bankman-Fried told the courtroom that he was “sorry about what happened at every stage. And there are things I should’ve done and things I shouldn’t have.” They “built something beautiful,” Bankman-Fried said. “And I threw it all away.” The final sentence was meted out by US District Judge Lewis Kaplan who used the hearing to carefully walk through the financial crimes committed by Bankman-Fried.

There was “never a word of remorse for the commission of a terrible crime,” the judge said, adding that there was a risk Bankman-Fried would commit crimes again.

With the sentencing now done, Bankman-Fried’s lawyers said they would appeal his conviction.

Calling Bankman-Fried’s seven-count conviction reflective of the defendant’s “unmatched greed and hubris,” the government’s sentencing request argued for significant jail time in light of fraud it estimates at more than $10 billion.

Bankman-Fried’s attorneys depicted their client as a diligent young man motivated by philanthropy who got in over his head, calling the government’s proposed sentence “barbaric.” Their portrayal is similar to the one SBF’s defence presented at trial — which was quickly rejected by jurors after just five hours of deliberation. Bankman-Fried’s defence team had asked for six years in prison, a sentence that would return him “promptly to a productive role in society,” said the attorneys led by Marc Mukasey.

A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a billionaire before the age of 30, Bankman-Fried conquered the crypto world at breakneck speed, turning FTX, a small start-up he cofounded in 2019, into the world’s second largest exchange platform.

But in November 2022, the FTX empire imploded, unable to cope with massive withdrawal requests from customers panicked to learn that some of the funds stored at the company had been committed to risky operations at Bankman-Fried’s personal hedge fund, Alameda Research.

Published in Dawn, March 29th, 2024

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