Commentary: Sam Bankman-Fried’s 25-year jail sentence is a warning to crypto


Now, to be sure, the sentence of 25 years fell short of what prosecutors had hoped for when comparing Bankman-Fried to Madoff, who was sentenced to 150 years after his Ponzi scheme collapsed.

And it’s pretty amusing to note that some of the more hawkish voices after the sentencing came from crypto industry representatives, who are determined to erase the memory of FTX and other bad actors from investors’ minds as the industry rebounds to new heights.

It has to be said that Madoff is an outlier, and 25 years is high up in the white-collar rogues’ gallery, and still meets the criteria of serving as a deterrent while also taking other factors into account like age and the nature of the crimes.

And, more importantly, it sends a message to an industry that’s still yet to complete the clean-up it sorely needs. Bankman-Fried’s one-time arch-rival, Binance boss Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, is due to be sentenced on anti-money laundering failures soon.

A civil fraud trial has started over fallen tycoon Do Kwon, who was arrested in Montenegro last year after the collapse of his cryptocurrency two years ago. And Bloomberg News on Thursday (Mar 28) reported the United States and United Kingdom are reviewing more than US$20 billion of crypto transactions that passed through a Russia-based virtual exchange. 

Misconduct happens when the perceived benefits outweigh the costs (and the risk of detection). Bankman-Fried’s sentencing sends a clear warning that aspiring crypto fraudsters should heed.

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