Home World News Sam Bankman-Fried Handed 25 years for fraud

Sam Bankman-Fried Handed 25 years for fraud

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FTX, Sam Bankman-Fried
FTX, Sam Bankman-Fried

Sam Bankman-Fried was sentenced to 25 years in prison by a judge on Thursday for stealing US$8-billion from customers of the now-bankrupt FTX cryptocurrency exchange he founded, the last step in the former billionaire wunderkind’s dramatic downfall.

US district judge Lewis Kaplan handed down the sentence at a Manhattan court hearing after rejecting Bankman-Fried’s claim that FTX customers did not actually lose money and accusing him of lying during his trial testimony. A jury found Bankman-Fried, 32, guilty on 2 November on seven fraud and conspiracy counts stemming from FTX’s 2022 collapse in what prosecutors have called one of the biggest financial frauds in US history.

Kaplan said Bankman-Fried had shown no remorse.

“He knew it was wrong,” Kaplan said of Bankman-Fried before handing down the sentence. “He knew it was criminal. He regrets that he made a very bad bet about the likelihood of getting caught. But he is not going to admit a thing, as is his right.”

Bankman-Fried stood with his hands clasped before him as Kaplan read the sentence. He was led out of the courtroom by members of the US Marshals Service when the hearing ended.

Bankman-Fried, wearing a beige short-sleeve jail t-shirt, acknowledged during 20 minutes of remarks to the judge that FTX customers had suffered and he offered an apology to his former FTX colleagues.

The sentence marked the culmination of Bankman-Fried’s plunge from an ultra-wealthy entrepreneur and major political donor to the biggest trophy to date in a crackdown by US authorities on malfeasance in cryptocurrency markets. Bankman-Fried has vowed to appeal his conviction and sentence.

Kaplan said he had found that FTX customers lost $8-billion, FTX’s equity investors lost $1.7-billion, and that lenders to the Alameda Research hedge fund Bankman-Fried founded lost $1.3-billion.

“The defendant’s assertion that FTX customers and creditors will be paid in full is misleading, it is logically flawed, it is speculative,” Kaplan said. “A thief who takes his loot to Las Vegas and successfully bets the stolen money is not entitled to a discount on the sentence by using his Las Vegas winnings to pay back what he stole.”

The judge also said Bankman-Fried lied during his trial testimony when he said he did not know that his hedge fund had spent customer deposits taken from FTX.

Federal prosecutors had sought a prison sentence of 40 to 50 years. Bankman-Fried’s defence lawyer Marc Mukasey had argued that a sentence of less than 5-1/4 years would be appropriate.

Addressing the judge, Bankman-Fried said: “Customers have been suffering… I didn’t at all mean to minimise that. I also think that’s something that was missing from what I’ve said over the course of this process, and I’m sorry for that.”

Referring to his FTX colleagues, Bankman-Fried told the judge: “They put a lot of themselves into it, and I threw that all away. It haunts me every day.”

Three of his former close associates testified as prosecution witnesses at trial that he had directed them to use FTX customer funds to plug losses at Alameda Research.

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