Fallen cryptocurrency mogul Sam Bankman-Fried deserves 40 to 50 years in prison, say NYC feds

Manhattan federal prosecutors say fallen cryptocurrency mogul Sam Bankman-Fried’s theft of $8 billion from his customers should land the 32-year-old former billionaire in prison for 40 to 50 years.

In court papers filed Friday, the prosecutors called his crime “likely the largest fraud in the last decade.”

“Justice requires that he receive a prison sentence commensurate with the extraordinary dimensions of his crimes,” prosecutors wrote in the 116-page sentencing recommendation submitted to Judge Lewis A. Kaplan.

“The defendant victimized tens of thousands of people and companies, across several continents, over a period of multiple years,” prosecutors wrote. “He stole money from customers who entrusted it to him; he lied to investors; he sent fabricated documents to lenders; he pumped millions of dollars in illegal donations into our political system; and he bribed foreign officials.”

The maximum sentence for Bankman-Fried’s crimes is 110 years.

Bankman-Friend was convicted on charges of wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering by a federal jury in Manhattan in November.

Bankman-Fried, an MIT graduate, used the $8 billion he took from his cryptocurrency trading platform, FTX, to fund political contributions, luxury real estate in the Bahamas and business investments, prosecutors said. Before his companies went bankrupt, Bankman-Fried partied with celebrities as he built a crypto empire.

After his companies collapsed, Bankman-Fried was arrested in the Bahamas and extradited to the United States in December 2022. While awaiting trial, he was allowed to stay at his parents’ Palo Alto, Calif. home. That ended when a judge determined Bankman-Fried had tried to tamper with witnesses, and put him behind bars.

Federal prosecutors cited over $100 million in “unlawful political donations” Bankman-Fried made to hundreds of politicians, “believed to be the largest-ever campaign finance offense.” They also called a $150 million bribe he paid to Chinese government officials “one of the single largest by an individual.”

“Even following FTX’s bankruptcy and his subsequent arrest, Bankman-Fried shirked responsibility, deflected blame to market events and other individuals, attempted to tamper with witnesses, and lied repeatedly under oath,” they wrote.

Last month, Bankman-Fried’s lawyers asked the judge for a much-lower sentence of five years to 6 1/2 years. Their request came after federal probation officials suggested Bankman-Fried serve a 100-year sentence — a proposal Bankman-Fried’s lawyers have called “grotesque.”

“Those who know Sam also know how deeply, deeply sorry he is for the pain he caused over the last two years,” his lawyers wrote. “And that he believes there is nothing he will ever be able to do to ‘make (his) lifetime impact net positive,’ a devastating self-assessment for someone who has devoted his life to improving the welfare of others.”

Bankman-Fried’s sentencing is scheduled for March 28.

Asked for comment, Bankman-Fried’s lawyer Marc Mukasey said in an email:

“Next week ... stay tuned.”