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FTX Fraud: Inside Sam Bankman-Fried's Billion-Dollar Scandal

Former cryptocurrency billionaire Sam Bankman-Fried, aged 32, has been handed a 25-year prison sentence for his role in a significant financial fraud linked to the downfall of the FTX crypto exchange. Convicted in November on seven counts, including fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering, Bankman-Fried's case shed light on the intricacies of his scam.

Bankman-Fried ventured into the cryptocurrency realm at 25, establishing Alameda Research, where he exploited Bitcoin price disparities across various countries through arbitrage trading. This endeavor reportedly yielded him $20 million within a mere three weeks. In 2019, he launched FTX, a crypto exchange based in Hong Kong, leveraging his charismatic persona and promises of substantial returns to attract investors.

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Described by his former girlfriend and ex-CEO of Alameda Research, Caroline Ellison, as an extreme risk-taker, Bankman-Fried's unorthodox approach and relaxed demeanor earned him a dedicated following within FTX, fostering a quasi-cult-like loyalty. Despite external perceptions, even from entities like venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, hailing him as a visionary, cracks in Bankman-Fried's facade emerged when conflicts of interest between his companies surfaced, casting doubt on their integrity.

The downfall of Bankman-Fried and FTX accelerated on November 7, 2022, when a rival executive's tweet questioning FTX's financial stability triggered customer panic and a subsequent bank run, resulting in the loss of billions from the platform. Despite efforts to contain the situation, FTX faced insurmountable damage, culminating in over $8 billion in missing customer funds and the company's bankruptcy.

Throughout Bankman-Fried's trial, conflicting narratives emerged regarding his involvement, portraying him alternately as a brilliant yet unwitting CEO or as someone complicit in siphoning billions from customers. Regardless, FTX's collapse laid bare the extent of its dependence on its founder's fortunes.

March 29, 2024 6:03 p.m. 9014

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