Sam Bankman-Fried rejects portrayal as “depraved supervillain”

Sam Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of FTX, has hit back at U.S. prosecutors’ suggestion for a sentencing range of 40 to 50 years, labeling it as a distortion of reality that unfairly characterizes him as a “depraved super-villain.”

This reaction comes in response to prosecutors’ claims that such a sentence is justified by Bankman-Fried’s involvement in a “historic” fraud case that affected over 1 million victims and led to losses surpassing $10 billion due to the collapse of his cryptocurrency empire.

In a letter dated March 19 to Judge Lewis Kaplan, Bankman-Fried’s attorneys, Marc Mukasey and Torrey Young, argue that the proposed sentence is excessively harsh and aligns more with outdated, “medieval” notions of punishment rather than fitting the crime’s nature. They suggest a significantly reduced prison term of five to six years, contrary to the severe penalty sought by the prosecution on March 15.

The defense claims that the portrayal of Bankman-Fried as purely profit-driven grossly overlooks his philanthropic contributions and relatively modest lifestyle. They also challenged the idea that Bankman-Fried poses a high risk of committing further offenses, citing studies indicating low recidivism rates among educated, white-collar criminals with no previous convictions.

Moreover, Bankman-Fried’s lawyers dispute the prosecution’s presentation of unsupported allegations, including claims of Bankman-Fried evading responsibility and misrepresenting sentencing precedents for similar fraud cases. They added that imposing a 40 to 50-year sentence, effectively a life sentence, lacks justice and is unnecessary given Bankman-Fried’s already considerable personal and professional losses.

In support of a lighter sentence, the defense provided additional documents suggesting Bankman-Fried’s active engagement in resolving FTX’s bankruptcy and refuted claims of his potential for future criminal behavior. They argue that a fair sentence should allow for the possibility of Bankman-Fried’s rehabilitation and reintegration into society, proposing a more lenient guideline range of 63 to 78 months.

According to the Department of Justice’s Southern District of New York office, Bankman-Fried engaged in deceitful practices such as lying to investors, sharing fake documents, and illegally funneling millions of dollars into the political system.

The requested penalty also includes a forfeiture exceeding $11 billion, with prosecutors deeming it a conservative sum considering the scale of the fraud. Efforts to recover funds have targeted Bankman-Fried’s political contributions, labeled as “the largest-ever campaign finance offense,” with over $3 million already returned by candidates.