Sam Bankman-Fried Had List of ‘Bad Ideas’ for Spinning FTX Fraud

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Following his conviction in November, Sam Bankman-Fried is awaiting sentencing for the massive fraud that brought down his much-vaunted FTX cryptocurrency exchange. Making the case for a 40-to-50-year prison term, federal prosecutors have now submitted a list of the disgraced CEO’s bad ideas for spinning his company’s bankruptcy in the weeks after it collapsed.

“Note: these are all random probably bad ideas that aren’t vetted; CONFIDENTIAL,” reads a note at the top of the Google Document. In the text that follows, Bankman-Fried laid out possible ways wresting control of the FTX narrative that range from vague (“Come out as extremely pro crypto, pro freedom”) to desperate (“Send out a twitter poll asking people what to do”). The brainstorm conveys just how hopeless his situation had become in November 2022, when FTX entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Most eye-catching, though, are Bankman-Fried’s musings on a political play: “Go on Tucker Carlsen [sic], come out as a republican,” is the third item pitched, with “Come out against the woke agenda” added underneath. In another Google Document submitted to the court, Bankman-Fried tallied up legislators and journalists he might turn to for help, including Sen. Cory Booker and author Michael Lewis, who had shadowed him for a book, Going Infinite. But under the subheading “Random subgroup support,” he threw out “Alt right,” and the only name to appear in an “allies” section is “Skreli,” presumably meaning Martin Shkreli, another reviled and convicted financial fraudster released from prison in 2022 after serving four years of a seven-year sentence.

Bankman-Fried did ultimately pursue a number of the strategies outlined in these documents, such as blaming bankruptcy lawyers and the Chapter 11 process for FTX’s failure to compensate their customers. Another proposed plan he put into action was “Radical honesty on Twitter,” including the revelation of “gory details” of what happened at the exchange. Indeed, Bankman-Fried stunned the financial world (and no doubt frustrated his own legal team) by continuing to openly discuss his fallen crypto empire even after he’d been criminally charged and extradited from the Bahamas, both on social media and in high-profile interviews.

Prosecutors who argued at trial that Bankman-Fried stole at least $10 billion through FTX said the documents show he was “motivated to launch his redemption narrative and has already been thinking about how to spin it,” according to Business Insider. In addition to a decades-long sentence for crimes they compared to Bernie Madoff‘s, they are seeking an $11 billion judgment. Attorneys representing Bankman-Fried did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but they have pressed for him to receive no more than six-and-a-half years.

Bankman-Fried’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 28, and he faces a maximum penalty of 110 years, with the U.S. Probation Office advocating for a 100-year sentence. His lawyers have called that recommendation “grotesque,” while his family have told the court that his social awkwardness could put him at heightened risk in a prison environment. A lenient sentence, however, would likely enrage crypto investors who demanded his imprisonment from the moment FTX went under — and remain bitter that it tainted their market with a historic scandal.

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