Former FTX chief Sam Bankman-Fried seeks no more than six years in prison as sentencing trial awaits

Lawyers for Sam Bankman-Fried, the former head of the collapsed cryptocurrency exchange FTX, have requested a sentence of just five to six years in prison in the wake of his conviction last year on seven counts of fraud.

U.S. probation officials have recommended a sentence of 100 years for Bankman-Fried’s role in orchestrating what prosecutors described as an elaborate, multibillion-dollar fraud. He is slated to be sentenced March 28.

But in a 98-page memo filed Tuesday, Bankman-Fried’s lawyers portray him as suffering from an array of neurological and personality issues that could not be overcome, turning him into a ‘tragic’ figure.

‘Sam presents at times as a paradox,’ the lawyers write. ‘Not because he is deliberately deceiving or conniving, but rather because that is how he is ‘wired’ as a human. He has an exceptional IQ, but difficulty with conventional styles of communication, especially around emotion.’

They add that those who know Bankman-Fried know he is ‘selfless, altruistic, and cares about those less fortunate.’

‘Well before … FTX ever existed, Sam committed his life to philanthropy, pledging to earn money and give it away, with the goal of ‘helping the world’s poorest people,” the lawyers write, citing another statement made by a Bankman-Fried character witness.

Bankman-Fried wasn’t motivated by greed or material concerns, the lawyers write — a notion seemingly belied by the lavish style Bankman-Fried and his colleagues enjoyed in the Bahamas while running FTX that included living in a $35 million penthouse.

The lawyers further allege that the loss to FTX customers was ultimately zero — and indeed, representatives for the bankruptcy estate of FTX said earlier this month that they expect to fully repay customers and creditors with legitimate claims.

Bankman-Fried is currently being held at a detention facility in New York City. Citing the statement of a fellow inmate, the lawyers say Bankman-Fried’s neurodiversity and lack of physical stature, plus the high-profile nature of his crimes, may put him at risk of physical harm in prison.

‘Sam being the ‘least physically intimidating person … has and will lead to him being frequently targeted for hazing, harassment, and assault more so than the average inmate,’ the lawyers write.

Prosecutors have until March 15 to respond to the memo.

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