Sam Bankman-Fried Sentenced to 25 Years in Prison


Sam Bankman-Fried, the former cryptocurrency mogul who was convicted of fraud, was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Thursday, capping an extraordinary saga that upended the multi-trillion-dollar crypto industry and became a cautionary tale of greed and hubris.

Mr. Bankman-Fried’s sentence was shorter than the 40 to 50 years that federal prosecutors had recommended, but above the six-and-a-half-year sentence requested by the defense lawyers. A federal probation officer had recommended 100 years, just under the maximum possible penalty of 110 years behind bars.

The sentence was handed down by Judge Lewis A. Kaplan at the Federal District Court in Manhattan. Mr. Bankman-Fried, 32, was in the courtroom, clean shaven and wearing a loose fitting brown jail uniform.

Before the sentence was delivered, Mr. Bankman-Fried apologized to FTX customers, investors and employees. “A lot of people feel really let down, and they were very let down,” he said. “I’m sorry about that. I’m sorry about what happened at every stage.” He added that his decisions “haunt” him every day.

The sentencing signified the finale of a sweeping fraud case that exposed the rampant volatility and risk-taking across the loosely regulated world of cryptocurrencies. In November 2022, Mr. Bankman-Fried’s crypto exchange, FTX, imploded virtually overnight, erasing $8 billion in customer savings. At a trial last fall, he was convicted of seven counts of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering.

His sentence ranks as one of the longest imposed on a white-collar defendant in recent years. Bernie Madoff, who orchestrated a notorious Ponzi scheme that unraveled during the 2008 financial crisis, received a 150-year sentence in 2009. He was in his 70s at the time and died 12 years later. Elizabeth Holmes, who was convicted of defrauding investors in her blood-testing startup, Theranos, was sentenced to 11 years and three months in 2022.

A representative for Mr. Bankman-Fried didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Just 18 months ago, Mr. Bankman-Fried was a corporate titan and one of the youngest billionaires on the planet. With his face plastered on billboards and magazine covers, he could raise money seemingly at will. He hobnobbed with actors, musicians and superstar athletes, cultivating an image as a nerdy do-gooder who intended to donate all his wealth to charity.

Based in the Bahamas, FTX was one of the largest marketplaces for cryptocurrencies — an easy-to-use platform where investors could exchange dollars or euros for digital coins like Bitcoin and Ether. Its valuation was north of $30 billion.

But over less than a week in November 2022, a run on deposits exposed an $8 billion hole in FTX’s accounts. Mr. Bankman-Fried resigned, handing over power to a team of lawyers who promptly filed for bankruptcy. The next month, he was arrested at his luxury apartment in the Bahamas and charged with stealing from customers to finance billions in political contributions, charitable donations and investments in other start-ups.

The investigation moved with startling speed for such a complex case. Within months, three of Mr. Bankman-Fried’s top deputies,…



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