Sam Bankman-Fried: "I Tried to Hold Myself to a High Standard" and Would Have Been Able to Repay Customers as FTX's CEO

Sam Bankman-Fried has started showing signs of remorse but claims he wasn't aware his actions were illegal. He blames the company's choice not to relaunch FTX for being unable to repay creditors.

SBF sentencing

Sam Bankman-Fried, fresh off the legal rollercoaster capped off by a lengthy prison sentence, has for the first time expressed regret for his activities as the head of FTX. In an interview for ABC News over the Easter weekend, he said that FTX's insolvency resulted from several "bad decisions" he made in 2022, claiming that "of course" he was remorseful.

Chatting with the journalists via e-mail from the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, SBF sounded very eager to make amends for his actions.

"I'm haunted, every day, by what was lost. I never intended to hurt anyone or take anyone's money. But I was the CEO of FTX, I was responsible for what happened to the company, and when you're responsible it doesn't matter why it goes bad. I'd give anything to be able to help repair even part of the damage. I'm doing what I can from prison, but it's deeply frustrating not to be able to do more," he wrote.

Sam Bankman-Fried: "I never thought that what I was doing was illegal"

However, his confessions take a curious turn when he claims a lack of awareness about the gravity of his actions. "I never thought that what I was doing was illegal. But I tried to hold myself to a high standard, and I certainly didn't meet that standard," he said. The claims may sound dubious considering the high-risk operations the FTX was engaged in and their outcomes.

According to prosecutors, SBF stole from FTX customers and used the money for investments, propping up FTT (FTX's proprietary crypto token), personal gain, and political contributions. Still, on multiple occasions, SBF denied knowingly committing fraud, as well as the awareness that FTX's affiliated trading company, Alameda Research, was using FTX customer funds to invest in and trade cryptocurrencies.

Judge Lewis Kaplan: SBF’s statements lacked remorse

On March 28, SBF was sentenced to 25 years in prison for his involvement in large-scale fraud and conspiracy that led to the collapse of his crypto exchange and Alameda Research. The verdict, delivered in a Manhattan federal court, fell short of the 40 to 50 years sought by federal prosecutors but exceeded the five to six-and-a-half years proposed by Bankman-Fried's legal team.

As a co-founder and CEO of FTX, SBF contributed to its collapse, resulting in a staggering $8 billion loss for its clientele. Bankman-Fried stepped down during the company's downfall, and the new ownership eventually declared bankruptcy.

In his sentencing, Judge Lewis Kaplan accused SBF of perjury during his testimony and noted that he was frequently evasive. The judge further emphasized that Bankman-Fried's statements lacked any expression of remorse for the serious crimes he committed.

SBF: had I continuead as CEO, customers would have been repayed

In his statement to the court last Thursday, SBF asserted that if either himself or another FTX staff member had continued as CEO, customers would have been reimbursed "a long time ago." He attributed the delay in compensating creditors to the company's choice not to relaunch the FTX exchange, a decision he believed could have preserved the platform's long-term value.

In January this year, the exchange abandoned its efforts to restart operations and instead opted for a liquidation process. According to a company attorney's statement in a Delaware bankruptcy court hearing, this liquidation should result in full repayment to customers. After months of negotiations with potential bidders and investors, none were willing to invest the necessary funds to rebuild the FTX exchange.