The former boss of FTX was sentenced this Thursday to 25 years in prison for embezzling $8 billion from client funds from his crypto exchange.

Fallen cryptocurrency superstar Sam Bankman-Fried was sentenced Thursday to 25 years in prison for one of the worst financial frauds in recent history, after the judge found in particular that he had committed several perjuries on the stand .

He had already been found guilty by a jury in November of the seven counts brought against him during a trial at the end of which the New York prosecutor, Damian Williams, had requested between forty and fifty years of imprisonment.

During the hearing in a New York court on Thursday, federal judge Lewis Kaplan did not mince his words, noting that the young man had “never had a word of remorse for having committed a terrible crime”. He claimed, with supporting examples, that “SBF” – his nickname – had committed at least three perjuries when he testified during his trial, as well as witness tampering.

For his part, the thirty-year-old – who intends to appeal – apologized, admitting to having “made a series of bad decisions”. “A lot of people feel like they’ve been let down, and we’ve let them down, I’m sorry,” Sam Bankman-Fried said. “I’m sorry about what happened on every level.”

Sorcerer’s Apprentice

“SBF” used, without their consent, the assets of customers of its digital currency exchange platform FTX, to carry out risky transactions via its sister company Alameda, to purchase real estate or to make political donations. Subject to massive withdrawal requests from panicked customers, FTX imploded in November 2022. At the time of its bankruptcy filing, around $9 billion was missing.

In a few hours, the image of the whimsical little genius, with full hair and perpetual shorts and T-shirts, collapsed, giving way to that of a sorcerer’s apprentice, a fan of crazy bets.

The group’s liquidators have already recovered about $6.4 billion in cash and plan to fully reimburse injured customers. They are benefiting in particular from the brutal appreciation of cryptocurrencies, which have recovered after a catastrophic 2022 vintage marked by several bankruptcies and punctuated by the FTX scandal.

“Pernicious megalomania”

Faced with the threat of a very heavy sentence, the lawyers of Sam Bankman-Fried, who has just celebrated his 32nd birthday, sought to portray a more human “SBF” than the manipulator described during his trial. “Those who know Sam know that he is selfless, selfless,” his counsel wrote in a document submitted to Judge Kaplan before the hearing, along with dozens of letters of support from loved ones.

The people who worked with him “understand that his conduct was ‘never motivated by greed or a thirst for prestige'”, they argued, citing one of the testimonies in support of their request. The fact is that the former student of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was never accused of personal enrichment and kept, until the end, most of his fortune in FTX shares, whose value s ‘is evaporated. During his trial, which lasted five weeks, “SBF” lawyers presented him as a young business manager overwhelmed by his workload and victim of errors of judgment by his partners and employees.

To obtain clemency from the federal magistrate, they also mentioned the fact that this former trader had autism spectrum disorders, which makes him, according to them, “vulnerable within a prison population”. With these elements in mind, the lawyers suggested a sentence of between a little over five and six and a half years in prison.

During the trial, Sam Bankman-Fried’s defense was weakened by the testimonies of three former FTX and Alameda executives, including his former girlfriend, who all highlighted, in detail, the driving role of the accused in the fraud.

“He understood the rules, but decided that they did not apply to him,” the prosecutor’s office insisted in a document sent to the judge, citing a “pernicious megalomania” and “a superiority complex.”


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