June 16, 2024

Mikayla Macfarlane

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Sam Bankman-Fried to be sentenced to jail time

3 min read
Sam Bankman-Fried to be sentenced to jail time

Update: SBF has now been jailed for 25 years – read more here.

Sam Bankman-Fried, owner of the bankrupt crypto exchange FTX, will receive sentencing in New York today (March 28) after his convictions for fraud and conspiracy last year. District Judge Lewis Kaplan could level a sentence of up to 110 years of jail time.

Prosecutors are pushing for 40-50 years, whereas the defense is seeking leniency due to Bankman-Fried being a non-violent first-time offender. They are lobbying the judge for a sentence closer to six and a half years.

Victims of the collapse of FTX have been writing to the judge to provide their thoughts on the issue and to attempt to convey the impact fraud of this scale has had on them.

Sunil Kavuri, a British investor, said to the BBC “He has shown no remorse so why would any judge show any mercy?” At the time of FTX’s collapse, Kavuri had over $2 million worth of holdings on the exchange site.

Arush Sehgal, an entrepreneur from Barcelona, and his wife had around $4 million in dollars and Bitcoin in FTX – their life savings. He described it as them having “lost everything.”

Canadian Angela Chang had about a quarter of a million dollars in FTX, and its fall has led to her taking out credit card debt and ultimately selling a portion of a claim to an investor. She believes that victims of the crimes committed by Bankman-Fried are being minimized due to being in the crypto industry. “People think that crypto is criminal and so they have sympathy for this guy… But I’m not a criminal,” she said to the BBC.

How will Sam Bankman-Fried’s sentence be determined?

Making a sentencing decision such as this is a complex matter. The scale of the crime and its effects are contested at a huge scale, according to Columbia Law professor Daniel Richman. “Any judge or lawyer will tell you that one of the best things the defendant can do before being sentenced is really, really show he’s on the right path, show some remorse, and show some degree of self-knowledge as to his offense,” said professor Richman, continuing, “Here you not only have a defendant who went to trial but you have one who really, at least the judge believed, was obstructive prior to trial.” Bankman-Fried had his bail revoked last year after rumors of witness tampering and intimidation reached Judge Kaplan.

Part of the case for leniency stems from the fact that through the bankruptcy filings, most people who had holdings in FTX stand to regain their money. However, this does not account for losses sustained due to being unable to participate in the market as Bitcoin hit its record high before beginning to fall again.

There are also those reaching out to beg for leniency in sentencing, including Bankman-Fried’s mother, Barbara Fried. She is a former law professor and describes the US justice system as “punitive”. “I have no illusions about the redemptive power of prisons,” she wrote in a letter to Judge Kaplan. “Being consigned to prison for decades will destroy Sam as surely as would hanging him.”

Despite the pleas from family and friends and the fact that Bankman-Fried is a non-violent first-time offender, Professor Richman believes it would be “really surprising” for the Judge to come anywhere close to the defense’s request of 6.5 years.

Featured image: Generated by Ideogram

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