Cryptocurrency Titan, Sam Bankman-Fried, Breaks Silence After Receiving 25-Year Prison Sentence

By Jennifer Wentworth | Tuesday, 02 April 2024 09:30 AM
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In his first interview since his sentencing, Sam Bankman-Fried, the former cryptocurrency magnate who was sentenced to 25 years in prison for leading a colossal fraud, maintained that he did not believe he was violating the law.

However, he also conceded that his actions were not morally upright.

"I never thought that what I was doing was illegal," Bankman-Fried told ABC News on Sunday. "But I tried to hold myself to a high standard, and I certainly didn't meet that standard."

Speaking from his cell at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, Bankman-Fried expressed remorse for his actions, contradicting US District Judge Lewis Kaplan's statement during his sentencing that he displayed an "apparent lack of any real remorse."

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"I've heard and seen the despair, frustration and sense of betrayal from thousands of customers; they deserve to be paid in full, at current price," Bankman-Fried told ABC.

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"That could and should have happened in November 2022, and it could and should happen today. It's excruciating to see them waiting, day after day."

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Bankman-Fried also expressed regret for the impact of his actions on his former employees and the charities he supported, which suffered reputational damage due to his actions.

Some of Bankman-Fried's former employees have admitted to struggling to find new employment and dealing with depression since the downfall of FTX, which once boasted a valuation of $40 billion.

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"I'm haunted, every day, by what was lost," Bankman-Fried confessed in his correspondence with ABC. "I never intended to hurt anyone or take anyone's money. But I was the CEO of FTX, I was responsible for what happened to the company, and when you're responsible it doesn't matter why it goes bad."

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"I'd give anything to be able to help repair even part of the damage. I'm doing what I can from prison, but it's deeply frustrating not to be able to do more."

It is believed that more than 1 million customers suffered losses due to the sudden collapse of FTX in November 2022, which occurred after Bankman-Fried was discovered to have misappropriated FTX user funds to cover an $8 billion debt at the failing hedge fund Alameda Research, a sister company of FTX.

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Bankman-Fried was subsequently found guilty on seven counts of fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering related to the downfall of his company.

Victims claim they are still owed more than $19 billion based on current cryptocurrency prices. Bankman-Fried told ABC that these debts could have been "paid back long ago," but the company decided against restarting the FTX exchange, which he argued could have potentially led to long-term value.

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"There are and always have been plenty of assets to repay customers, lenders, and investors in full, at current prices or prices at the time," he said, according to ABC.

Bankman-Fried made the same argument in court, alleging that Sullivan & Cromwell, the law firm representing FTX's new ownership, collaborated with prosecutors. However, the judge dismissed these claims, stating during sentencing: "The defendant's assertion that FTX customers and creditors will be paid in full is misleading. It is logically flawed, it is speculative."

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Bankman-Fried also suggested that he did not receive a fair trial, claiming that he should have had the right to review the FTX documents shared by Sullivan & Cromwell with prosecutors, according to ABC.

Bankman-Fried revealed that his defense team plans to appeal his 25-year sentence later this year, citing inaccuracies in the trial testimony and the fact that his defense was "not allowed to introduce crucial evidence or put on important witnesses," he told ABC.

However, the former cryptocurrency boss did not provide further details on his defense team's legal strategy.

Judge Kaplan has also ordered Bankman-Fried to repay more than $11 billion to FTX's users, investors, and lenders.

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