Economics/Class Relations

A crypto kingpin’s comeuppance

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Saturday, November 4, 2023

Jeff John Roberts

Crypto Editor

One year ago, Sam Bankman-Fried was riding high. The founder of the FTX crypto exchange could name Tom Brady as one of his pals, while the media hailed him as a visionary billionaire poised to change the world. That’s all gone now.


It took a New York jury less than five hours to find Bankman-Fried guilty of each of the seven fraud-related charges he faced. His law-professor parents—once the toast of San Francisco’s liberal elite—could only look on in despair as their son was led away, while scrutiny grows of their own role in the sorry affair that bilked investors out of at least $8 billion.


Bankman-Fried is due to be sentenced in late March. He’ll also be facing a second trial that includes allegations he tried to bribe Chinese officials. Although lifetime sentences are rare for white-collar crime, Bankman-Fried’s deeds are so notorious—and his lying so pervasive—that he could join Bernie Madoff, who died in prison in 2021, as a rare exception.


For those looking for lessons in all of this, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams summed it up well when he said that “while the cryptocurrency industry might be new and the players like Sam Bankman-Fried might be new, this kind of corruption is as old as time.”


Meanwhile, the crypto industry has survived the colossal blow to its reputation inflicted by Bankman-Fried, and there are even signs a new bull market is underway. Let’s hope that this time around, more people heed Williams’s advice.

The miserable end of Sam Bankman-Fried—and what comes next

Nov. 3, 2023


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