As the trial of Sam “SBF” Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of FTX, approaches, legal experts are weighing in on the potential consequences he may face in his cryptocurrency-related case. Bankman-Fried is set to stand before a jury next week in connection with the collapse of his $32-billion crypto exchange. He is facing seven charges, and if convicted on all counts, he could be sentenced to a maximum of 115 years in prison.
Legal professionals are closely examining the situation. Michael Kanovitz, a partner at Loevy & Loevy law firm, expressed a grim outlook for Bankman-Fried, suggesting that a guilty verdict on fraud charges could lead to a life sentence. Kanovitz explained that sentencing is often influenced by the gravity of the crime and the defendant’s conduct throughout the legal proceedings. If the government can prove that Bankman-Fried knowingly embezzled billions of dollars and attempted to cover it up by destroying evidence, this could result in a severe sentence.
Kanovitz also noted that courts may exercise leniency in sentencing if the defendant cooperates, but he believes that Bankman-Fried has not been particularly cooperative, citing suspicions of witness tampering.
Jeremy Hogan, a partner at Hogan & Hogan, while somewhat less definitive, also predicts a lengthy prison term for Bankman-Fried, exceeding 10 years.
Bankman-Fried faces a total of seven fraud charges, with two of them being substantive and the rest related to conspiracy. The burden of proof lies with the government, which must demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that he committed these offenses or conspired to commit them.
The defense strategy for Bankman-Fried is expected to involve portraying him as a scapegoat influenced by others who have already pleaded guilty. His lawyers may emphasize his unique personality traits to depict him as easily influenced and immature. Additionally, the defense may argue that the unclear regulatory landscape in the cryptocurrency industry led him to believe his actions were acceptable.
However, legal experts anticipate that these defenses may fall short, especially when it comes to convincing a jury that a successful individual like Bankman-Fried was inept at managing other people’s money. In this sense, Bankman-Fried’s own success could work against him in the eyes of the jury.
As the trial unfolds, it remains to be seen how these legal arguments will play out and what the ultimate outcome will be for Sam Bankman-Fried in his cryptocurrency-related legal battle.