Sam Bankman-Fried on the perspective of prison: This is neither the time nor the place to think about it
The disgraced founder of crypto exchange FTX, who went bankrupt after looting client funds, says he’s not particularly focused on the criminal risks he might face right now. His remarks came during a well-watched broadcast interview at a New York Times DealBook conference.
“There will be a time and a place to think about me and my own future. But I don’t think that’s it. Look, I’ve had a bad month,” Sam Bankman-Fried said in response to a question from host Andrew Ross Sorkin about whether he was concerned about criminal liability for his actions.
The comments drew laughter from the audience and raised eyebrows on social media where many were surprised Bankman-Fried had agreed to the live interview in the first place. People at the center of potentially criminal scandals typically heed lawyers’ advice to keep quiet for fear of providing incriminating information to prosecutors.
“They really aren’t,” Bankman-Fried said in response to a question about whether lawyers were telling him to speak out. “I have a duty to explain what happened… I don’t see what good is accomplished by sitting locked in a room pretending the outside world doesn’t exist.”
Legal observers have suggested that Bankman-Fried’s conduct at FTX could amount to electronic fraud, a federal law that can result in a 20-year prison sentence. For the moment, he has not been the subject of any criminal charges and is presumed innocent.
Sam Bankman-Fried, wearing a black t-shirt and appearing practically from the Bahamas, has apologized for the collapse of FTX, which left him with funds for more than a million customers and creditors. But he denied trying to commit fraud.
“[I] have not knowingly mixed together once. I was frankly surprised by the size of Alameda’s position, which indicates another failure on my part. I was not trying to mix funds,” he said, referring to his hedge fund that tapped funds from the FTX exchange when it ran into financial difficulties earlier this year.
Several times during the interview, Bankman-Fried apologized to investors for the FTX debacle, but didn’t seem to acknowledge that he had done anything morally wrong.
“At the end of the day, I had duties to the investors, to the world. I didn’t do a good job of that. I made a lot of mistakes. There are things I would give anything for. to be able to do them again. I didn’t try to defraud anyone…There are things I wish I had done differently,” he said.
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