Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of FTX, has been declared guilty on all seven charges related to fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering after a trial lasting over two weeks.
This trial marked one of the most prominent financial crime cases in recent years and everybody is wondering how long the sentence could be.
The 31-year-old ex-billionaire in the cryptocurrency industry has been found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, two counts of wire fraud, and one count of conspiracy to engage in money laundering.
These charges each come with a potential maximum prison sentence of 20 years. Additionally, he has also been convicted of conspiracy to commit commodities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud, both of which carry a maximum prison term of five years.
Judge Lewis Kaplan will now decide how much of a sentence Bankman-Fried will get. The judge has broad authority to decide to sentence a defendant less than the guidelines, even though the charges have a statutory minimum of 110 years and sentencing guidelines offer a kind of formula.
If it’s to believe legal analyst Rikki Klieman , if Judge Kaplan “believes the defendant was committing perjury in his courtroom, he might even go above the guidelines.”
The former FTX employee Tien, for her part, expressed concern that Bankman-Fried’s sentence would be excessively severe and questioned whether she could instead assist the authorities in looking into other possible cases of cryptocurrency trading fraud.
On the other hand, Katie Haun, CEO and Founder of Haun Ventures, and an former General Partner at Andreessen Horowitz, said that it’s not unlikely for Bankman-Fried to spend “decades in prison”.
“People confuse the statutory maximum sentence (the max a judge is allowed to give) with the sentencing guidelines recommended sentence (basically advisory guidance to judges about what the starting point for a sentence should be, given the defendant’s crimes and personal history). Judges always begin their process with that sentencing guidelines recommended range,” she stated .
Bankman-Fried had previously complained about not being able to get vegan food and medication while he was housed in the Brooklyn jail prior to the trial, and Kaplan had previously stated that the jail was “not on anybody’s list of five-star facilities.”
Crypto legal expert David Lesperance previously told CCN he assumes the sentence would be around “10 to 15 years”.
Still, Lesperance asserted that all will depend on the judge’s last call.
This would take the young entrepreneur to be in his mid-40s when he’ll be free, according to Lesperance’s assumption — not too old to leave his ambitions of running another empire behind.
On March 11, Bankman-Fried may go through a second criminal trial over five counts of conspiracy to commit bribery, conspiracy to run an unauthorized money-transmitting business, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and conspiracy involving derivatives and securities fraud.
Judge Lewis Kaplan of the New York District Court set a deadline of February 1, 2024, for the government prosecutors to certify their intention to proceed with the second trial.