Prosecutors want fallen ‘crypto king’ sent to the slammer for up to half a century


Sam Bankman-Fried leaves Manhattan federal court in New York on Feb. 16, 2023. A slimmed down, foot-tapping FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried made a brief appearance in a Federal courtroom in New York, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024, to switch lawyers before his sentencing next month. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

Sam Bankman-Fried leaves Manhattan federal court in New York on Feb. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

Prosecutors said they want fallen ‘crypto king’ Sam Bankman-Fried sent to prison for up to half a century, less than the probation department’s recommended 110 years and a lot more than what his defense attorney wants — 6 1/2 years max.

In the government’s 116-page sentencing memo, prosecutors said a sentence of between 40 and 50 years is “necessary to reflect the seriousness of the defendant’s crimes, to promote respect for the law, to provide just punishment for the defendant’s grievous criminal conduct, and to protect the public from further crimes of the defendant.”

A jury in Manhattan convicted him in November of cheating customers and investors of at least $10 billion. Bankman-Fried was indicted on eight counts, including wire fraud, conspiracy and campaign finance violations.

“Bankman-Fried’s crimes were serious and long-running, causing billions of dollars in losses and significant harm to tens of thousands of victims financially and emotionally,” prosecutors said. “The sheer enormity of the loss in this case, and the fact that the loss came in the form of stealing of victims’ money, puts Bankman-Fried in a category of defendants where sentences of forty years or more is appropriate.”

“The sheer scale of Bankman-Fried’s fraud calls for severe punishment,” prosecutors continued. “The amount of loss — at least $10 billion — makes this one of the largest financial frauds of all time.”

Bankman-Fried’s spokesman told the New York Times on Friday that his lawyer would file a response to the government early next week.

Marc L. Mukasey, another Bankman-Fried lawyer, said in his sentencing memo last month that the probation department’s recommended punishment was “grotesque.”

“Sam Bankman-Fried has been described as a ‘sociopath,’ ‘a man with no morals, remorse or empathy,’ who is an ‘an ice-cold manipulator, bully and shameless liar,’” the filing reads. “He has been labeled ‘one of history’s most notorious fraudsters,’ and compared to Bernie Madoff, Charles Ponzi, a robber-baron, and the devil.”

Mukasey said his much-shorter-than-recommended sentence “returns Sam promptly to a productive role in society” and cited his “charitable works” and “demonstrated commitment to others.”

The Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission claim that he raised more than $1.8 billion from investors in his since-failed FTX cryptocurrency exchange while allegedly diverting his customers’ money to Alameda Research LLC, his privately-held hedge fund. According to a superseding indictment, Bankman-Fried allegedly directed payments to Chinese officials of at least $40 million in cryptocurrency bribes for them to unfreeze his accounts.

Bankman-Fried purportedly became a billionaire as the exchange was marketed to a mass audience: FTX famously advertised during the Super Bowl with a guest appearance by Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Larry David, who has been sued for his appearance in the ad.

Bankman-Fried also aggressively courted Capitol Hill, often with strategic political donations and expressing openness to federal authorities regulating his industry.

He had also testified before the House Financial Services Committee and the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. He was slated to appear at a congressional hearing about the November 2022 collapse of FTX that had been scheduled just days after his arrest.

His sentencing hearing is set for March 28.

Marisa Sarnoff and Adam Klasfeld contributed to this report.



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