SBF maintains his innocence as he trades rice in jail

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FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried still maintains his innocence despite getting 25 years in jail for fraud and while he plans his appeal, he’s taken to commodities trading — namely bags of rice.

In his first in-person chat with the media since being locked up in Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in August 2023, Bankman-Fried spoke to Puck News’ William Cohan in an interview published May 9 which Bankman-Fried’s mother Barbara Fried was involved in organizing.

The ex-FTX CEO’s diet sees him get vegan meals that fellow inmates think “literally [smell] like shit” so he lives on beans and rice — the latter has “become one of the currencies of the realm inside MDC.”

The alum of trading house Jane Street Capital and co-founder of trading firm Alameda Research reportedly joked about how much better the arbitrage opportunities are in jail compared to his former life as a high-frequency trader.

Bankman-Fried was “considerably thinner,” losing 25 pounds (11 kilograms) and was “less pudgy, less manic, less fidgety,” with no bags under his eyes, Puck reported.

He looked Cohan in the eyes “pretty much the whole time,” during the interview — something he “rarely did” before — but the jailed founder admitted he’d “become good at faking” that he was doing well.

Source: Tiffany Fong

Bankman-Fried is cordoned off with 35 other male inmates — half reportedly murderers who are cooperating with the government — in a large open dorm-style room in a part of the MDC mostly for female inmates.

He’s reportedly extremely bored with only four TVs and a non-internet-connected tablet for entertainment which he plays games on.

He’s not worried about his safety but doesn’t sleep well as other inmates wake him to ask about his bags of rice as they want to use them for bartering.

SBF thinks he’s “the fall guy”

Last month, Bankman-Fried filed notice that he’s appealing his fraud and money laundering conviction, something his lawyers said he’d do when found guilty in November.

He speaks to his new lawyer “nearly every weekday for an hour or so” and his approved prescription medication has him “thinking clearly,” said Cohan. 

The former exchange head told Cohan he was “set up to be the fall guy” for the collapse of FTX — saying his only slip-up was negligence that put FTX in a place “vulnerable to a bank run and the devious actions of its competitors” adding a reasonable punishment would be civil, not criminal penalties.

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Cohan noted Bankman-Fried “still doesn’t believe he committed any crimes” and painted himself as an innocent participant who didn’t get a chance to negotiate sufficiently with prosecutors.

He was also “not exactly apologetic” about the roughly $8 billion in customer funds he was convicted of helping to misappropriate.

Bankman-Fried claims the army of lawyers that he passed FTX off to, pinned him for the collapse of the firm. The former CEO believed if he stayed at FTX’s helm, it would not have collapsed into bankruptcy but would instead be a thriving company worth $80 billion.

He added he should’ve tried harder to find someone other than ex-girlfriend Caroline Ellison to lead Alameda after his lawyers convinced him it was a conflict of interest to run the trading firm and FTX simultaneously — or just ignored them and continued to run both.

Bankman-Fried has asked to stay at the MDC until he files his appeal which should come in July. He can, however, be moved at any time and will likely be placed in a facility near his parents — on the other side of the country in California.

If that happens, it’s reportedly likely to be in a prison bus which can take up to four months as it journeys across the United States, which picks up and drops off inmates as it goes.

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