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Sam Bankman-Fried Claims Innocence Amidst Jail Trading

Key Insights:

  • Sam Bankman-Fried trades rice and maintains innocence while serving a 25-year sentence for fraud, adjusting to life at Brooklyn’s MDC.
  • Bankman-Fried plans to appeal his conviction, arguing negligence rather than criminal intent, which led to FTX’s collapse and the loss of customer funds.
  • Despite losing 25 pounds and facing monotonous prison life, Bankman-Fried communicates regularly with his lawyer and remains focused on overturning his conviction.

Sam Bankman-Fried, the co-founder of FTX, remains steadfast in his assertion of innocence despite serving a 25-year sentence for fraud. In his first in-person media interview since his incarceration in August 2023, Bankman-Fried discussed his life within Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) and his plans for appeal.

During the interview with Puck News’ William Cohan, arranged with the assistance of Bankman-Fried’s mother, Barbara Fried, the former CEO shared insights into his daily routine. His vegan diet, which consists mainly of beans and rice, has garnered negative reactions from fellow inmates who find the meals unappetizing. In MDC, rice has become a valuable commodity for bartering, and Bankman-Fried has turned to trading bags of rice to occupy his time and stay engaged.

Adjusting to Prison Life

Bankman-Fried’s physical appearance has noticeably changed since his incarceration. He has lost 25 pounds and appears less bulky and manic than in previous public appearances. He also mentioned that he has become adept at pretending to be well-adjusted to his circumstances.

In his new environment, Bankman-Fried resides with 35 other male inmates, many of whom are accused of serious crimes. Despite the potentially volatile environment, he has expressed that he does not fear for his safety. However, his sleep is frequently interrupted by inmates seeking to trade for his bags of rice.

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The former high-frequency trader has found prison life to be monotonous, with limited entertainment options available. He spends his time watching one of the four communal TVs or playing games on a non-internet-connected tablet.

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Legal Battle and Appeal

Bankman-Fried has maintained regular communication with his new lawyer, engaging in nearly daily discussions to prepare for his appeal. He remains on prescribed medication, which he claims helps him think clearly. Last month, he formally notified the court of his intention to appeal his conviction for fraud and money laundering.

In his conversation with Cohan, Bankman-Fried reiterated his belief that he was wrongfully singled out as the primary culprit for FTX’s collapse. He described his actions as negligent but not criminal, arguing that his missteps left FTX vulnerable to a bank run and manipulative actions by competitors. He contended that a civil penalty would have been a more appropriate response than a criminal conviction.

Perspective on the FTX Collapse

Bankman-Fried remains unapologetic regarding the misappropriation of approximately $8 billion in customer funds, a central issue in his conviction. He contends that the legal team he entrusted with FTX’s management unfairly placed the blame for the firm’s downfall squarely on him. He maintains that if he had retained control of FTX, the company would have avoided bankruptcy and thrived, potentially reaching a valuation of $80 billion.

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Reflecting on his management decisions, Bankman-Fried acknowledged that he should have exerted more effort to appoint a more suitable leader for Alameda Research, the trading firm closely linked to FTX. He cited his relationship with Caroline Ellison, who took over Alameda, as a conflict of interest that contributed to the firm’s difficulties. Despite legal advice to separate his roles, he believes that maintaining his leadership across both entities could have prevented the collapse.

Bankman-Fried has requested to remain at MDC until his appeal is filed, which is anticipated to occur in July. Nonetheless, he could be transferred to a facility closer to his parents in California at any time. Such a transfer would likely involve a lengthy journey by prison bus, which could take up to four months as it makes stops across the country to pick up and drop off other inmates.

Editorial credit: MacroEcon / Shutterstock.com


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Curtis Dye

Curtis is a cryptocurrency news and analytics author with a focus on DeFi, BLockchain, CeFi, NFTs etc. He has publication skills such as SEO optimization, Wordpress, Surfer tools and aids his viewers with insights on the volatile crypto industry.

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