“I’m Haunted Every Day”: Sam Bankman-Fried Speaks Out After Sentencing

Mr Fried was on a pinnacle of success, leading a luxurious life, to a sudden downfall.

Former crypto entrepreneur Sam Bankman-Fried was sentenced to 25 years in jail last week following his conviction in one of the biggest financial fraud cases in history. In an interview with ABC News, Mr Fried said he is remorseful for his actions. 

“It’s most of what I think about each day,” he told the media outlet.

Mr Fried was on a pinnacle of success, leading a luxurious life, to a sudden downfall. 

He was found guilty of multiple counts of fraud in 2023 after the spectacular crash of his cryptocurrency exchange FTX.

“I never thought that what I was doing was illegal. But I tried to hold myself to a high standard, and I certainly didn’t meet that standard,” he told ABC News in an email. 

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate and a billionaire before the age of 30, Sam Bankman-Fried conquered the crypto world at breakneck speed, turning FTX, a small start-up he cofounded in 2019, into the world’s second-largest exchange platform.

But in November 2022, the FTX empire imploded, unable to cope with massive withdrawal requests from customers panicked to learn that some of the funds stored at the company had been committed to risky operations at Sam Bankman-Fried’s personal hedge fund, Alameda Research.

During the trial, some of Sam Bankman-Fried’s closest associates said that he was key to all the decisions that saw $8 billion vanish from FTX.

“I’ve heard and seen the despair, frustration and sense of betrayal from thousands of customers; they deserve to be paid in full, at current price,” he told the media outlet. 

“That could and should have happened in November 2022, and it could and should happen today. It’s excruciating to see them waiting, day after day,” he added.

He added that he “felt the pain” from co-workers as he “threw away what they poured their lives into” and from the charities he supported “as their funding turned into nothing but reputational damage.”

“I’m haunted, every day, by what was lost. I never intended to hurt anyone or take anyone’s money. But I was the CEO of FTX, I was responsible for what happened to the company, and when you’re responsible it doesn’t matter why it goes bad. I’d give anything to be able to help repair even part of the damage. I’m doing what I can from prison, but it’s deeply frustrating not to be able to do more,” he told ABC News.

The downfall began on November 7, 2022 when a rival executive tweeted about FTX’s financial stability, triggering panic among customers and sparking a massive bank run that drained billions from the platform. Despite efforts to stem the bleeding, the damage was irreversible, resulting in over $8 billion in missing customer funds and the bankruptcy of the company.

During Mr Bankman-Fried’s trial, two conflicting narratives emerged about his involvement, with some calling him a brilliant but unwitting CEO, while others accusing him of knowingly siphoning billions of dollars of customer money.

 

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