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FTX Founder’s Lawyer Pushes for Leniency in $8 Billion Cryptocurrency Fraud Case

 |  February 28, 2024

FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried’s lawyer, Marc Mukasey, made a compelling plea for leniency during a sentencing submission on Tuesday. Bankman-Fried stands convicted of orchestrating a scheme that resulted in the misappropriation of a staggering $8 billion from customers of the now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange. Mukasey urged U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan to consider a considerably reduced sentence, arguing that most of the defrauded funds would be returned to clients.

The sentencing recommendation proposed by Bankman-Fried’s legal team suggested a term ranging between 5-1/4 to 6-1/2 years, significantly lower than the maximum sentence of 110 years he faces. This recommendation comes in the wake of Bankman-Fried’s conviction on seven counts of fraud and conspiracy, a verdict delivered by a jury in November. Prosecutors have characterized the case as one of the most egregious instances of financial fraud in American history, reported Reuters.

Throughout the trial, Bankman-Fried maintained his innocence, pleading not guilty to all charges. He has expressed intentions to challenge both his conviction and the proposed sentence through the appellate process. Central to his defense was the assertion that while errors may have been made in the operation of FTX, there was never any intention to unlawfully siphon customer funds.

Related: FTX, Congress, Stablecoins: What 2023 May Bring For Crypto Regulations

Judge Kaplan is scheduled to deliver Bankman-Fried’s sentence on March 28, casting a shadow of uncertainty over the future of the former billionaire. However, in a bid to sway the court’s decision, Mukasey submitted letters of support from various quarters, including Bankman-Fried’s parents, a noted psychiatrist, and other associates.

In the letters, Bankman-Fried’s parents, Joseph Bankman and Barbara Fried, both esteemed Stanford law professors, portrayed their son as a conscientious individual who prioritized rectifying the situation following FTX’s collapse in November 2022. They emphasized his disinterest in material wealth and highlighted his efforts to restore customers’ losses in the brief window before his subsequent arrest on fraud charges.

As the legal proceedings unfold, the cryptocurrency community and financial regulators alike await the judge’s decision with bated breath, as it is poised to have far-reaching implications for the burgeoning industry and the accountability of its key players.

Source: Reuters