Business

Disgraced ‘crypto king’ jailed for 25 years after stealing billions of dollars from his customers

Disgraced crypto entrepreneur Sam Bankman-Fried has been sentenced to 25 years in prison after being convicted of stealing billions of dollars from his customers.

He was the chief executive of FTX, which suddenly went bankrupt in November 2022 – leaving millions of users frozen out of their accounts and unable to make withdrawals.

The 32-year-old could have faced up to 100 years behind bars – but last month, his lawyers argued such a sentence would have been “barbaric” and a five-year term would be more appropriate.

Initial reports said he had been sentenced to 20 years – but this has since been corrected to 25.

Prosecutors had asked the judge to jail Bankman-Fried for 40 to 50 years, arguing the public need protecting from the fraudster and a harsh punishment would deter other criminals.

Secret back doors had been established that allowed SBF’s other company, Alameda Research, to access money belonging to FTX customers and make risky bets without their knowledge.

At the sentencing hearing, Judge Lewis Kaplan said the businessman lied on the witness stand when he insisted he had no knowledge of customer funds being used this way.

More on Sam Bankman-fried

The judge also described Bankman-Fried’s claim that victims will be paid back in full as “misleading and logically flawed”.

“A thief who takes his loot to Las Vegas and successfully bets the stolen money is not entitled to a discount on the sentence by using his Las Vegas winnings to pay back what he stole,” Judge Kaplan warned.

It took just five-and-a-half hours for a jury in New York to convict him of two counts of fraud and five of conspiracy last November – with the trial hearing from former executives who had made plea deals.

FTX had a $10bn (£7.9bn) black hole in its finances after money belonging to customers was used to make risky bets in the cryptocurrency markets.

Bankman-Fried’s victims – an estimated 80,000 of whom are based in the UK – remain out of pocket, with some losing their life savings.

Prosecutors described his crimes as one of the biggest financial frauds in US history.

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