FTX Founder Sam Bankman-Fried Should Get Up to 50 Years in Prison, $11 Billion Fine: DOJ

Prosecutors in the federal fraud case against Sam Bankman-Fried said Friday that the disgraced FTX founder and former CEO should face 40 to 50 years in prison, $11 billion in fines, and asset forfeiture.

That’s according to a sentencing memo filed by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Southern District of New York on Friday. Bankman-Fried was found guilty of seven fraud and conspiracy charges last November following the prominent cryptocurrency exchange’s collapse in late 2022.

“Although it is unlikely (but not impossible) that the defendant will work in finance again, and will likely forfeit all of his ill-gotten gains, justice requires that he receive a prison sentence commensurate with the extraordinary dimensions of his crimes,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said. “For these reasons, the legitimate purposes of punishment require a sentence of 40 to 50 years’ imprisonment.”

Prosecutors said that Bankman-Fried and associates pilfered billions of dollars’ worth of customer funds from FTX through the Alameda Research trading firm, a sister company of FTX. Bankruptcy lawyers said recently that they have a plan to make customers whole after recovering stolen assets and investments, and selling the exchange’s remaining cryptocurrency holdings.

“All of this conduct was willful. In every part of his business, and with respect to each crime committed, the defendant demonstrated a brazen disrespect for the rule of law,” Williams said. “He understood the rules, but decided they did not apply to him.

“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,” he continued.

Williams noted that the federal guidelines for Bankman-Fried’s crimes effectively called for a life sentence of over 100 years, but that the Justice Department sentencing recommendation is based specifically on the nature of the offense, its circumstances, and seriousness.

“Bankman-Fried’s crimes were serious and long-running, causing billions of dollars in  losses and significant harm to tens of thousands of victims financially and emotionally,” Williams said. “The sheer enormity of the loss in this case, and the fact that the loss came in the form of stealing of victims’ money, puts Bankman-Fried in a category of defendants where sentences of forty years or more is appropriate.”

Edited by Andrew Hayward and Ryan Ozawa.

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