SBF repeatedly lied to get out of “supervillain” prison term, FTX CEO alleges


FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried (R) departs Manhattan Federal Court after an arraignment hearing on March 30, 2023, in New York City.
Enlarge / FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried (R) departs Manhattan Federal Court after an arraignment hearing on March 30, 2023, in New York City.

The CEO of FTX Trading, John Ray, sent a letter to Judge Lewis Kaplan Wednesday to correct what he called “callously” and “demonstrably false” claims that disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried made in hopes of receiving a lighter sentence for crimes including defrauding FTX customers.

In a sentencing memo, Bankman-Fried asked the court to drastically slash his prison sentence from what he considered a “grotesque” 110-year maximum to five to six years. Prosecutors have suggested the sentence should be between 40 and 50 years, but Bankman-Fried claimed such a sentence painted him as a “depraved supervillain,” Bloomberg reported.

The lightest sentence was appropriate, Bankman-Fried claimed, because the “most reasonable estimate of loss” and “harm” to customers, lenders, and investors is “zero.”

According to Ray, “Bankman-Fried continues to live a life of delusion.” While Ray’s team continues to work to recover funds lost, which has been estimated around $10 billion, the total amount of stakeholder claims filed is $23.6 quintillion dollars.

“One quintillion is one billion billions,” Ray told Kaplan. “It is the number 1 followed by 18 zeros. The task of addressing filed claims and reducing them to their proper and ‘allowed’ amount is monumental. Mr. Bankman-Fried assumes this is a breeze. He is wrong, very wrong.”

In one of the letter’s most heated moments, Ray explained why Bankman-Fried is also wrong to claim that FTX is “solvent and safe”:

Vast sums of money were stolen by Mr. Bankman-Fried, and he was rightly convicted by a jury of his peers. That things that he stole, things he converted into other things, whether they were investments in Bahamas real estate, cryptocurrencies or speculative ventures, were successfully recovered through the enormous efforts of a dedicated group of professionals (a group unfairly maligned by Mr. Bankman-Fried and his supporters) does not mean that things were not stolen. What it means is that we got some of them back. And there are plenty of things we did not get back, like the bribes to Chinese officials or the hundreds of millions of dollars he spent to buy access to or time with celebrities or politicians or investments for which he grossly overpaid having done zero diligence. The harm was vast. The remorse is nonexistent.

Ray appears to be frustrated that Bankman-Fried chose to blame his team currently leading FTX and managing bankruptcy claims, as well as lawyers—labeling them as “enemies”—to dodge responsibility for FTX crimes.

Those crimes include: wire fraud on customers of FTX, conspiracy to commit wire fraud on customers of FTX, wire fraud on lenders to Alameda Research, conspiracy to commit wire fraud on lenders to Alameda Research, conspiracy to commit securities fraud on investors in FTX, conspiracy to commit commodities fraud on customers of FTX in connection with purchases and sales of cryptocurrency and swaps, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

“Bankman-Fried was willing to consider any narrative, including wildly conflicting narratives, that could potentially save him from this day of reckoning,” Ray told Kaplan.

Conflicting narratives Bankman-Fried considered were either focusing “exclusively on the fact” that he “could give value back to customers,” and “the Chapter 11 team is destroying it” or “go strong with the message” that “I’m really glad the Chapter 11 team has stepped in, they’re great, and even better I have funding that can help make customers more whole while the Chapter 11 team does what is needed to clean things up.”

Instead of being “enemies” stopping FTX customers from clawing back all the funds stolen, Ray told Kaplan that his team “worked tirelessly in the months following the collapse to institute governance, controls, and to preserve and protect assets.”

“The value we hope to return to creditors would not exist without the tens of thousands of hours that dedicated professionals have spent digging through the rubble of Mr. Bankman-Fried’s sprawling criminal enterprise to unearth every possible dollar, token, or other asset that was spent on luxury homes, private jets, overpriced speculative ventures, and otherwise lost to the four winds,” Ray told Kaplan, adding that “achieving anticipated recovery levels” that Bankman-Fried suggested all FTX victims are expecting is actually “by no means assured.”

“I am quite confident that but for the work of a very large team of dedicated individuals, billions of dollars would have been lost or stolen and the recoveries to customers would be a fraction of their expected recovery,” Ray told Kaplan. “I make this statement not to curry sympathy or thanks, but to accurately report on the reasons why the FTX debtors may soon be in a position to compensate victims for some of the losses caused by Mr. Bankman-Fried.”


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