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Sam Bankman-Fried Appeals Conviction and Sentence, Faces Yearslong Process

Sam Bankman-Fried appealed his conviction and 25-year prison sentence Thursday (April 11).

The FTX founder, who was convicted in November 2023 and sentenced in March for stealing $8 billion from customers of the now-bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange, faces what could be a yearslong process in pursuing the appeal, Reuters reported Thursday (April 11).

Bankman-Fried’s lawyers will need to convince a court, and potentially the U.S. Supreme Court, that the judge made errors during his trial, depriving him of his legal rights and making the trial unfair, according to the report.

Earlier on Thursday, Bankman-Fried’s former lawyer, Mark Cohen, said at a conference that there was a disparity between Bankman-Fried’s 25-year sentence and Binance founder Changpeng Zhao’s 18-month sentence for violating anti-money laundering (AML) laws, per the report.

One of the prosecutors in Bankman-Fried’s case, Nicolas Roos, said at the same conference that there was different conduct in the two cases, with Zhao acknowledging wrongdoing and voluntarily traveling to the U.S. to face trial, according to the report.

Bankman-Fried was arrested in the Bahamas and extradited to the U.S., and has denied that he stole money, the report said.

The 25-year sentence handed down in Bankman-Fried’s case is less than the 40- to 50-year imprisonment that prosecutors were seeking, and above the five to six years that his defense team had asked for.

“At the end of the day, the criminal justice system thrives only if it’s seen as fair,” Judge Lewis Kaplan said when announcing the sentencing. “People need to feel it is fair, or we’re back to trial by combat. The punishment must fit the seriousness of the crime. And this was a serious crime.”

The filing of the appeal comes about two weeks after Bankman-Fried gave his first jailhouse interview to ABC in a report published April 1, saying that he made a series of “bad decisions.”

“I never thought that what I was doing was illegal,” he said, days after being sentenced for the fraud that led to the collapse of his cryptocurrency exchange. “But I try to hold myself to a high standard, and I certainly didn’t meet that standard.”