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Sam Bankman-Fried says sorry before being sentenced to 25 years in crypto fraud case

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Sam Bankman-Fried Sentenced to 25 Years in Federal Prison for $8 Billion Fraud. —  Sam Bankman-Fried. (AFP File) 

Sam Bankman-Fried, a former big shot in the world of cryptocurrencies, has been sentenced 25 years in US federal prison for swindling $8 billion from customers of his cryptocurrency exchange, FTX, which later went bankrupt. 

The judge, Lewis Kaplan of the Manhattan court did not accept Bankman-Fried’s story that the customers didn’t really lose any money. The judge accused him of lying during the trial.

“He knew it was wrong,” the judge said about Sam before announcing the verdict. “He knew it was criminal. He regrets that he made a very bad bet about the likelihood of getting caught. But he is not going to admit a thing, as is his right.”

On November 2, the jury found him guilty on seven fraud and conspiracy counts after FTX’s 2022 collapse, which prosecutors say is one of the biggest financial scams in the US history.

The 32-year-old businessman stood silently during the court hearing while listening to the judge reading out the sentence.

Explaining the sentence, the judge said that he gave such a harsh punishment because he believed there was a real risk of Bankman-Fried causing more harm in the future. Kaplan justified the penalty for Sam, saying, “that there is a risk that this man will be in position to do something very bad in the future. And it’s not a trivial risk at all.”

Before he was sentenced, Bankman-Fried said sorry for what he did. “A lot of people feel really let down. And they were very let down. And I’m sorry about that. I’m sorry about what happened at every stage,” he said.

“My useful life is probably over. It’s been over for a while now, from before my arrest.”

The sentence he got was actually less than what the prosecutors wanted, which was between 40 to 50 years. He could have even faced up to 110 years in jail. “The defendant victimised tens of thousands of people and companies, across several continents, over a period of multiple years. He stole money from customers who entrusted it to him,” prosecutors submitted in a court filing.

Bankman-Fried used to present himself as a champion of “effective altruism,” which is about using your money to help others in the best way possible. But prosecutors said that his good guy image was just a cover for stealing from customers for years.

Even when the cryptocurrency market went bad in 2022, he was investing in troubled companies instead of helping his customers.

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