Sam Bankman-Fried claims no harm to FTX customers

Sam Bankman-Fried, the former FTX CEO who was found guilty of fraud charges last year, is facing his sentencing next month. But before that day arrives, he’s making a plea for what he considers a fair shake.

According to a recent court filing, Bankman-Fried and his legal team are shooting for a sentence ranging from 63 to 78 months. This move comes as a stark contrast to the century-long sentence the Presentence Investigation Report (PSR) suggested, which Bankman-Fried’s attorneys have outright labeled as “grotesque.”

The backdrop to this legal drama is the 2022 downfall of FTX, which Bankman-Fried led until its spectacular crash. After a month-long trial last November, he was convicted on seven counts of fraud and conspiracy. But his lawyers are now highlighting his status as a 31-year-old, first-time, non-violent offender. They also claim that he wasn’t acting alone in the conduct that led to his charges and argue that the victims are on track to get fully reimbursed.

Bankman-Fried’s defense is leaning heavily on the argument that the actual harm to FTX’s customers, lenders, and investors is zero, given the bankruptcy estate’s expectation to repay customers fully. This perspective is part of their pitch for a “just sentence,” suggesting that considering the situation as “zero loss” could lead to a shorter sentencing range than the PSR’s grim forecast.

The memo filed by Bankman-Fried’s legal team also paints a picture of FTX and FTX.US’s financial health at the time of bankruptcy filing, challenging the narrative of insolvency with claims that the estate has over $10 billion in assets. This, they argue, should factor heavily into the sentencing decision, along with Bankman-Fried’s philanthropic efforts and his potential to contribute positively to society in the future.

Bankman-Fried’s character has been a point of contention, with detractors labeling him everything from a sociopath to one of history’s most notorious fraudsters. Yet, the filing seeks to counter this image with testimonials from those close to him, portraying him as a deeply caring individual with a genuine commitment to doing good.

Support for Bankman-Fried comes from various quarters, including his family, former colleagues, and even a fellow inmate, highlighting his vulnerability to extortion and harassment due to his high-profile case and perceived wealth. Additional letters point to Bankman-Fried’s commitment to global justice and suggest that his behavior may be influenced by Autism Spectrum Disorder, advocating for continued access to therapy.

In pushing back against the proposed sentence, Bankman-Fried’s attorneys are disputing several points raised in the PSR, including allegations of witness tampering and the use of auto-deleting messages, which they argue are either inapplicable or unsupported.