It’s SBF sentencing day

Place your bets, folks. Will the fallen crypto wunderkind spend his life behind bars or have a brief stop-over in the big house? 

Driving the news: Sam Bankman-Fried will be sentenced today following his conviction on seven counts of fraud and conspiracy. Prosecutors have asked that he get 40 to 50 years, his attorneys have argued for 6.5 years at most, and he could theoretically get over 100. 

Catch-up: SBF was a founder and the CEO of crypto exchange FTX, which he ran into the ground while siphoning users' money into his hedge fund, leading to a conviction in November. Since first being charged, he’s been held in a notoriously unsafe Brooklyn jail. 

What SBF’s team is saying: Earlier this year, FTX said it would be able to repay all of the money to users it had lost. SBF’s lawyers are arguing that, given this development, a lenient sentence would be just, as the material damage done to the victims has been rectified. 

  • They also argue that prison is especially unsafe for SBF due to his autism spectrum disorder and that it would be a waste to lock up such a Gifted Young Man.

What prosecutors are saying: The state is using the same tactic to try and net a long sentence that it used to win the case, arguing that SBF’s fraud was a huge, premeditated, years-long effort that caused significant financial and psychological damage to many victims.

  • Victims may be getting dollars back, but they are not getting the actual, much more valuable, crypto they lost. Prosecutors also argue a long sentence prevents recidivism (read: doing it again). 

Bottom line: SBF isn’t the only crypto criminal facing jail time (and likely won’t be the last). If SBF’s playbook ends up nabbing him a lighter sentence, other big names like Binance’s Changpeng Zhao and Terraform’s Do Kwan could borrow it come sentencing time.—QH