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Sam Bankman-Fried Sentencing: Prosecutors Claim Google Doc Proves Why He Needs 40 Years in Jail on March 28

Last Updated March 19, 2024 9:49 AM
Teuta Franjkovic
Last Updated March 19, 2024 9:49 AM
By Teuta Franjkovic
Verified by Peter Henn

Key Takeaways

  • US officials seek 40 to 50 years in prison and a multi-billion judgment for Sam Bankman-Fried, calling it a ‘historical fraud.’
  • Prosecutors reference major financial crimes like Bernie Madoff’s scheme to justify the harsh sentence.
  • DOJ unveils incriminating evidence, including witness testimony and plans for media manipulation.

Federal prosecutors say  Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced founder and former CEO of the FTX crypto exchange, deserves a prison sentence of between 40 and 50 years.

This recommendation comes in light of his involvement in one of the most significant financial fraud cases in American history.

Pushing for 40-50 Year Sentence for SBF in Historic Crypto Fraud

The Department of Justice’s Southern District of New York office, in a sentencing memo , accused Bankman-Fried of deceiving investors, circulating fraudulent documents, and injecting millions in unlawful contributions into the political system. The document argued that a 40 to 50-year sentence was “necessary.” Additionally, they recommended a penalty exceeding $11 billion and the forfeiture of assets.

According to  the prosecutors:

“Bankman-Fried is deserving of a severe sanction, proportionate to his role in this historic fraud. The government urges the court to impose a sentence that underscores the remarkably serious nature of the harm to thousands of victims; prevents the defendant from ever again committing fraud; and sends a powerful signal to others who might be tempted to engage in financial misconduct that the consequences will be severe.”

Prosecutors Seek $11 Bn From Bankman-Fried, Call it “Conservative”

Prosecutors described their $11 billion judgment request against Bankman-Fried as “a particularly conservative sum”. They pointed out that over $1 billion had already been confiscated. They also claimed political donations  made by the disgraced former billionaire and other FTX executives were “the largest-ever campaign finance offense”.

The prosecution’s documentation reveals that 251 candidates have returned more than $3 million of such contributions. Additionally, they provided comparisons with other major financial crimes. For instance, it brought up Bernie Madoff, whose Ponzi scheme resulted in $13 billion in losses and led to a 150-year prison sentence. This, they said, set the standard for crimes involving more than $100 million in victim losses.

The proposed forfeiture  order outlines the sources of funds for recovery, encompassing deposits in seized U.S. bank accounts, balances in various Binance and Binance.US accounts, and proceeds from the sale of Robinhood shares. Throughout the memo, the Department of Justice (DOJ) emphasizes the notion that Bankman-Fried was fully aware of his illegal activities yet behaved as though he was above the law, a point underscored by the evidence presented during his trial.

Witness Testimony Fuels $11 Bn Sentencing Request

The memo cites testimony and allegations from witnesses at the trial, including people who were once part of Bankman-Fried’s close-knit group. It highlights instances of misconduct, such as bribing foreign government officials, with a reference to testimony by Caroline Ellison, former CEO of Alameda Research. Additionally, the memo points to Gary Wang, FTX’s former Chief Technology Officer. His testimony indicated that Bankman-Fried instructed Alameda to secure a substantial line of credit through FTX.

Last November, after a month-long trial linked to the activities and downfall of FTX and Alameda Research, both companies he established, Bankman-Fried was found guilty on seven different charges of fraud and conspiracy. He will be sentenced on March 28. In a memo last month, his defense team advocated for a six-year prison term . However, prosecutors deemed this “woefully inadequate” in their recent filing on Friday.

In their memo on Friday, prosecutors criticized the defense team’s assertion that the majority of FTX creditors might recuperate a substantial portion of their funds. They argued Bankman-Fried did not contribute to these recovery efforts, saying his actions were “in many respects…counterproductive”.

Prosecutors Unveil Bankman-Fried’s PR Maneuvers

Prosecutors, like the defense team, presented several exhibits to bolster their case but took a different approach in their selection. Whereas the defense primarily submitted character references, the DOJ introduced direct messages  from FTX customers to Bankman-Fried and selected Google documents as evidence.

One such document, seemingly penned after FTX’s bankruptcy filing, outlined various strategies Bankman-Fried could use to navigate the bankruptcy scenario. These strategies included blaming the legal team, considering an appearance on Tucker Carlson’s former Fox News show, potentially “coming out as a Republican,” engaging in an interview with Michael Lewis, who later wrote a book about him, distributing a letter to employees, and tweeting about his depression medication.

Another document  provided a breakdown of options for FTX leading up to and during its bankruptcy. Meanwhile, a third  focused on ways Bankman-Fried could elicit sympathy and communicate more details about FTX’s predicament.

According to  the memo:

“He knew what society deemed illegal and unethical, but disregarded that based on a pernicious megalomania guided by the defendant’s own values and sense of superiority.”

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