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posted by hubie on Wednesday November 01, @05:46AM   Printer-friendly
from the who-reads-those-anyway? dept.

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2023/10/sam-bankman-fried-begins-testifying-in-risky-bid-to-beat-ftx-fraud-charges/

Sam Bankman-Fried took the stand in his criminal trial today in an attempt to avoid decades in prison for alleged fraud at cryptocurrency exchange FTX and its affiliate, Alameda Research.

Providing testimony has been called a risky move for Bankman-Fried by many legal observers. After answering questions posted by his own lawyers, Bankman-Fried will have to face cross-examination from federal prosecutors. But after three weeks in which US government attorneys laid out their case, including testimony from former FTX and Alameda executives, Bankman-Fried's legal team announced yesterday that he would take the stand.

Today's testimony was unusual because US District Judge Lewis Kaplan sent the jury home for the day to conduct a hearing on whether certain parts of his testimony are admissible. "That means Bankman-Fried will give some of his testimony to the judge without the jury present. The judge will then decide whether Bankman-Fried is allowed to say the same testimony in front of a jury," The Wall Street Journal wrote in its live coverage. The trial is not being streamed via audio or video.
[...]
"Bankman-Fried said he believed that under FTX's terms of service, sister firm Alameda was allowed in many circumstances to borrow funds from the exchange," the WSJ wrote. Bankman-Fried reportedly said the terms of service were written by FTX lawyers and that he only "skimmed" certain parts.

"I read parts in depth. Parts I skimmed over," Bankman-Fried reportedly said after Kaplan asked if he read the entire terms of service document.

Sassoon asked Bankman-Fried if he had "any conversations with lawyers about Alameda spending customer money that was deposited into FTX bank accounts," according to Bloomberg's live coverage. "I don't recall any conversations that were contemporaneous and phrased that way," Bankman-Fried answered.
[...]
One decision for Kaplan is whether Bankman-Fried will be allowed to blame FTX lawyers when the jury is back in the courtroom. As we previously wrote, this is called an "advice-of-counsel defense" in which SBF could argue that he sought advice from company lawyers, received advice that his conduct was legal, and "relied on that advice in good faith."

Before the trial began, Kaplan issued an order that prohibited Bankman-Fried from using the advice-of-counsel defense in opening statements. But Kaplan left the door open for SBF to use the advice-of-counsel defense "on a case-by-case basis" as the trial continues.


Original Submission

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SBF Asks for 5-Year Prison Sentence, Calls 100-Year Recommendation “Grotesque” 20 comments

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2024/02/sbf-asks-for-5-year-prison-sentence-calls-100-year-recommendation-grotesque/

Convicted FTX fraudster Sam Bankman-Fried pleaded for a lenient prison sentence in a court filing yesterday, saying that he isn't motivated by greed and "is already being punished."

Bankman-Fried requested a sentence of 63 to 78 months, or 5.25 to 6.5 years. Because of "Sam's charitable works and demonstrated commitment to others, a sentence that returns Sam promptly to a productive role in society would be sufficient, but not greater than necessary, to comply with the purposes of sentencing," the court filing said.

[...] The filing urged the court to "reject the PSR's barbaric proposal" of 100 years, saying that such sentences should only be for "heinous conduct" like terrorism and child sexual abuse.

The founder and ex-CEO of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, Bankman-Fried was convicted on seven charges with a combined maximum sentence of 110 years after a monthlong trial in US District Court for the Southern District of New York. The charges included wire fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, securities fraud, commodities fraud, and money laundering.

[...] Kaplan said before the trial that SBF "could be looking at a very long sentence" if convicted. After the conviction, law professors were quoted as saying that Bankman-Fried's sentence was likely to be at least 20 or 25 years and conceivably as much as 50 years.

[...] "Sam was not predatory. He did not set out to prey on the elderly, the unsophisticated, or implement a plan to poach pension assets. His conduct falls far lower on the culpability scale," the filing said. He also "never intended to cause loss for the purpose of his own personal gain," his legal team said.

Bankman-Fried's conduct should be characterized as "risk shifting," the filing said. Risk-shifting "offenses are not specifically intended to cause loss. Instead, they shift the risk of any potential loss from the defendant (or from others involved in the criminal undertaking) to a third party, such as the victim of the offense."

According to Bankman-Fried's legal team, this makes his offenses similar in severity to "false statements for the purpose of obtaining a bank loan that is intended to be repaid. Such offenses are generally less culpable than those where loss is specifically intended."

[...] Bankman-Fried's sentencing submission was accompanied by letters of support from his parents and others. His mother, Barbara Fried, wrote that "Sam is the first person we would call if we needed an angel of mercy in a pinch," and that he "lived an exemplary life in every way prior to the events that brought FTX down."

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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by Thexalon on Wednesday November 01, @10:36AM

    by Thexalon (636) on Wednesday November 01, @10:36AM (#1331085)

    I'm sure the prosecutors will emphasize, on cross-examination, that this guy called what he was doing, in writing, the very crime he was charged with committing. That he thinks he can talk himself out of trouble isn't surprising (con-artists usually think they can), but he foolishly left an electronic trail and paper trail that announces that reality and what he says are reality are wildly different.

    --
    The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by VLM on Wednesday November 01, @11:27AM

    by VLM (445) on Wednesday November 01, @11:27AM (#1331090)

    Providing testimony has been called a risky move for Bankman-Fried by many legal observers.

    Everyone 'knows' this but no real legal expert has their name on it.

    I was reading a financial columnist a couple days ago discussing this topic and if SBF figures he's got a 99.9% chance of being convicted and testifying has a 1% chance of success, he kind of has to do it as the risk/reward payoff is immensely in his favor.

    Its worth pointing out in "real" trials where the odds are closer to 50:50 there is a pretty big strategic risk, so on average perps usually don't testify.

  • (Score: 3, Troll) by VLM on Wednesday November 01, @11:32AM (2 children)

    by VLM (445) on Wednesday November 01, @11:32AM (#1331092)

    Before the trial began, Kaplan issued an order that prohibited Bankman-Fried from using the advice-of-counsel defense in opening statements.

    Well, now we know how it will likely play out. Here's my opinion:

    He will get convicted at the trial, everyone on the prosecution side will get their 15 minutes of fame for such a brave and amazing trial "now everything in crypto is fixed!", and the crook-types of the world will rest easy because they got their sacrificial lamb so they're free to steal again.

    Then the appeal gets filed, the appeals court judge will "WTF" about the quote above, and someplace on page 17 of the newspaper there will be a small notice his trial was overturned and he's a free man now.

    Then he takes his flight to Israel.

    Not a bad scam, overall.

    • (Score: 2) by Freeman on Wednesday November 01, @01:50PM

      by Freeman (732) on Wednesday November 01, @01:50PM (#1331105) Journal

      I would be very surprised, if he doesn't spend at least a decade in jail.

      --
      Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee"
    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by khallow on Wednesday November 01, @04:05PM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday November 01, @04:05PM (#1331128) Journal

      and the crook-types of the world will rest easy because they got their sacrificial lamb so they're free to steal again

      These sorts of trials are background noise. I doubt there are any crook-types out there losing any more sleep than they otherwise would.

      Then the appeal gets filed, the appeals court judge will "WTF" about the quote above, and someplace on page 17 of the newspaper there will be a small notice his trial was overturned and he's a free man now.

      Then he takes his flight to Israel.

      Maybe that'll happen. But I see (from a web search for Jewish persons who committed financial crimes in the US) that a more likely outcome is early release for good behavior. That's probably typical of most financial criminals whether Jewish or not and wouldn't draw the kind of attention to crook-types that getting off on a cheesy technicality would. It also would teach something of a lesson since I gather some powerful crook-types might have been burned by Bankman-Fried's behavior.

      If we consider exceptions to the above, it looks even worse for Bankman-Fried. One of the exceptions is Bernie Madoff who ended up dying in jail after a similar criminal career. He couldn't get a release for poor health despite being as well connected as Bankman-Fried prior to getting caught.

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by Opportunist on Wednesday November 01, @04:50PM

    by Opportunist (5545) on Wednesday November 01, @04:50PM (#1331133)

    Your honor, I didn't know stealing is illegal, I didn't bother reading the law. Can I go now?

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 03, @12:18PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 03, @12:18PM (#1331350)

    Why is it I am forbidden to buy many medicines because I do not have formal medical training...

    Yet I am expected to honor terms and conditions of contracts of adhesion even though I do not have any formal legal training?

    It's amazing to me hue many people click agree without even glancing to what they are agreeing to. My guess if they read it, and realized how much they are waiving in order to complete the sale, the sale would never happen.

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