FTX Wonderboy Sam Bankman-Fried Finally Charged, Faces up to 115 Years Behind Bars

AP Photo/Marta Lavandier, File
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Co-founder of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX and apparent fraudster Sam Bankman-Fried was finally arrested Monday in the Bahamas, and Tuesday he faced a slew of charges from the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York and the Securities and Exchange commission. The 30-year-old Democrat darling and mega-donor is accused of defrauding FTX customers, committing wire fraud on both lenders and customers, and conspiring to commit both securities fraud and money laundering.


In one of the most notable charges, SBF was also hit with allegations of conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws and to defraud the United States. He was one of the largest campaign donors in the most recent election cycle, dropping at least $40 million in Democrat coffers, which earned him the undying admiration and protection of Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) and others. The filing accuses him of using “deceitful means” to get around campaign finance law and that he “knowingly and willfully” made contributions to candidates using other people’s names.

He faces a maximum 115-year sentence if convicted. The SEC also chimed in, alleging that the former wunderkind defrauded investors by illegally using their money to make extravagant real estate purchases.

SBF shot to the top of the headlines in November when FTX collapsed and billions of dollars of customers’ assets disappeared. He illegally diverted investors’ money to finance his own lavish lifestyle and make risky trades at his crypto hedge fund, Alameda Research. That house of cards began to fall last month when reports questioned FTX’s balance sheet and customers tried to withdraw billions in assets—but the money wasn’t there. Although cryptocurrency is complicated, FTX’s downfall is not: it was basically just like a typical bank run.


From the AP:

At a press conference on Tuesday, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams called it “one of the biggest frauds in American history,” and said the investigation is ongoing and fast-moving. He urged anyone who believes they were victims of the alleged scheme to contact his office.

Interestingly, Bankman-Fried’s arrest and the new charges prevented him from testifying at a congressional hearing that had been scheduled for Tuesday. Not everyone was thrilled by that:

The hearing proceeded without its star witness, and the new CEO, John Ray III, testified:

“This is not something that happened overnight or in a context of a week,” he said. “This is just plain, old-fashioned embezzlement, taking money from others and using it for your own purposes.”

The curly-haired fallen mogul, once worth an estimated $32 billion, appeared in a Bahamian court Tuesday to announce that he will fight extradition to the United States. Experts give him long odds of prevailing. While he was once considered a genius, news today from Australian Financial Review puts that into question: the outlet contends that SBF and other FTX buddies created a chat group on the encrypted platform Signal to talk about inner operations—and named it “Wirefraud.” As my colleague Jim Thompson joked, “Bank robbers open a chat called ‘How to Rob a Bank.'”


SBF denied knowing about the group, but not much that he says these days can be trusted.

Calls for Democrats to give SBF’s fraudulent donations back have largely fallen on deaf ears. On Tuesday, following the news of the arrest and subsequent charges, the White House avoided the question:

This whole sordid mess will almost certainly bring new revelations, and you can bet a whole bunch of Democrats are in damage control right now. Thankfully, Republicans will take the majority in the House in January, and at least we can hope they will conduct a decent investigation.

It’s looking more and more like Bernie Madoff and Enron’s Kenneth Lay were amateurs compared to this guy.


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