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Sam Bankman-Fried sentenced to 25 years in prison over FTX fraud

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Sam Bankman-Fried sentenced to 25 years in prison over FTX fraud

Sam Bankman-Fried was found guilty of fraud in November. Photograph: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

Sam Bankman-Fried was found guilty of fraud in November. Photograph: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images© Photograph: Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced cryptocurrency mogul who perpetrated one of the largest financial frauds in history, has been sentenced to 25 years in prison.

The judge, Lewis Kaplan, issued the penalty in a Manhattan courtroom on Thursday. Bankman-Fried, the former chief executive of the now-bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX, was convicted of fraud and conspiracy to launder money late last year.

Prosecutors had sought a sentence of between 40 to 50 years, arguing that Bankman-Fried, 32, showed a lack of remorse for his crimes while leading a life of “unmatched greed and hubris”.

In pre-sentencing arguments filed last month, Bankman-Fried’s lawyer urged the judge to show leniency, and said the maximum potential sentence for his client of 100 years was “grotesque”. Bankman-Fried’s attorneys were seeking a sentence of about seven years in jail.

Related: The rise and fall of Sam Bankman-Fried: an unrepentant ex-mogul faces down decades in prison

Only two years ago, Bankman-Fried was poised to become one of the most financially and politically influential people in the US. His firm FTX was valued at $32bn, and he had become the public face of the cryptocurrency industry, appearing on stage at events with celebrities and former world leaders and testifying before the US Congress. He was a major political donor, pouring money into election campaigns while lobbying lawmakers on crypto regulation.

The descent from crypto golden boy to global pariah happened swiftly. After reports emerged in November 2022 revealing the financial instability of Bankman-Fried’s companies, there was a domino effect on those businesses that included customers making a bank-style run on deposits and investigators freezing FTX assets. FTX declared bankruptcy just nine days after crypto news site Coindesk’s initial report, and Bankman-Fried’s personal net worth fell by billions of dollars.

He was arrested weeks later in the Bahamas, where he and other FTX executives lived and parts of his company were based.

Bankman-Fried’s highly anticipated trial began in October, with prosecutors alleging he misappropriated customer funds while enriching himself and buying up lavish real estate. Once known for unkempt hair and wearing casual clothes at all occasions, Bankman-Fried appeared with a new haircut and suit as he stood trial. In an unusual and ultimately disastrous move, he decided to take the stand in his own defense — leading to a damaging cross-examination where he failed to recall events and appeared to contradict himself.

Many of Bankman-Fried’s top executives and closest allies, including his on-again, off-again girlfriend Caroline Ellison, all testified against him during the trial. Ellison, the former chief executive of FTX’s trading arm Alameda Research, told the court that Bankman-Fried directed her to commit fraud and use FTX customer funds without their knowledge.

The jury in Bankman-Fried’s trial found him guilty on all seven counts of fraud and conspiracy after just four hours of deliberation. Bankman-Fried has maintained that he is innocent.

Story by Nick Robins-Early:The Guardian 

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