Prosecutors urge 40-50 years for crypto fraudster Bankman-Fried

The tech entrepreneur was found guilty of seven charges, including fraud and money laundering, late last year.

(AFP - VOZ MEDIA) U.S. prosecutors are seeking a sentence of 40 to 50 years in prison for cryptocurrency magnate Sam Bankman-Fried for a massive fraud scheme that cost his clients $8 billion, according to court documents released this Friday.

The founder and president of the cryptocurrency exchange platform FTX will be sentenced on March 28, after being found guilty in early November of seven charges including fraud, conspiracy and money laundering.

"A sentence of 40 to 50 years' imprisonment... is necessary to reflect the seriousness of the defendant's crimes," the prosecution argued.

Bankman-Fried "perpetrated one of the biggest financial frauds in American history," prosecutor Damian Williams said after the November verdict.

The case against Bankman-Fried

A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and a billionaire before the age of 30, Bankman-Fried conquered the world of cryptocurrency at breakneck speed, turning FTX, a small start-up that he co-founded in 2019, into the second largest cryptocurrency exchange platform in the world .

But in November 2022, the FTX empire imploded, unable to cope with massive withdrawal requests from customers terrified when they learned that part of the funds deposited with the company had been compromised in risk operations at the Bankman-Fried hedge fund, Alameda Research.

Some former FTX executives very close to Bankman-Fried, who agreed to collaborate with the prosecution, declared during the trial that he was key in all the decisions that made $8 billion worth of their platform disappear.

The trial's star witness, Caroline Ellison, former Alameda CEO and Bankman-Fried's on-again, off-again girlfriend, testified at trial that they had stolen "around $14 billion" from FTX clients for finance venture capital operations and political contributions, as well as ostentatious real estate in the Bahamas.

During the trial, Bankman-Fried admitted to making "mistakes" but denied trying to defraud anyone.