Prosecutors seek from 40 to 50 years in prison for Sam Bankman-Fried

Legal Issues

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried’s orchestration of one of history’s largest financial frauds in his quest to dominate the cryptocurrency world deserves a prison sentence of 40 to 50 years, federal prosecutors on Friday told a federal judge.

Prosecutors made the recommendation in papers filed in Manhattan federal court in advance of a March 28 sentencing, where a judge will also consider a 100-year prison sentence recommended by the court’s probation officers and a request by defense lawyers for leniency and a term of imprisonment not to exceed single digits.

Bankman-Fried, 32, was convicted in November on fraud and conspiracy charges after his dramatic fall from a year earlier when he and his companies seemed to be riding a crest of success that had resulted in a Super Bowl advertisement and celebrity endorsements from stars like quarterback Tom Brady and comedian Larry David.

Some of his biggest successes, though, resulted from stealing at least $10 billion from investors and customers between 2017 and 2022 to buy luxury real estate, make risky investments, dispense outsized charitable donations and political contributions and to buy praise from celebrities, prosecutors said.

“His life in recent years has been one of unmatched greed and hubris; of ambition and rationalization; and courting risk and gambling repeatedly with other people’s money. And even now Bankman-Fried refuses to admit what he did was wrong,” prosecutors wrote.

“Having set himself on the goal of amassing endless wealth and unlimited power — to the point that he thought he might become President and the world’s first trillionaire — there was little Bankman-Fried did not do to achieve it,” prosecutors said.

They said crimes reflecting a “brazen disrespect for the rule of law” had depleted the retirement funds and nest eggs of people who could least afford to lose money, including some in war-torn or financially insecure countries, and had harmed others who sought to “break generational poverty” only to be left “devastated” and “heartbroken.”

“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,” prosecutors said.

Bankman-Fried was extradited to the United States in December 2022 from the Bahamas after his companies collapsed a month earlier. Originally permitted to remain at home with his parents in Palo Alto, California, he was jailed last year weeks before his trial after Judge Lewis A. Kaplan concluded that he had tried to tamper with trial witnesses.

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