FTX Founder Sam Bankman Freed Speaks After Sentencing: 'I'm Haunted, Every Day, by What I Lost'

Former cryptocurrency entrepreneur Sam Bankman-Fried told ABC News in an exclusive interview that he regrets his actions that last week led to a 25-year prison sentence for fraud.

“That's mostly what I think about every day,” he said.

The ruling against Bankman-Fried capped a 17-month saga that began in November 2022 when FTX, a global cryptocurrency exchange he co-founded and served as CEO, collapsed, resulting in the loss of $8 billion for its clients. Bankman Fried resigned amid the company's downfall and the new ownership filed for bankruptcy. Prosecutors said he stole from FTX customers and used the money for political contributions, investments and personal gain. Last fall, he was convicted of seven counts of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering, leading to his sentencing on Thursday.

Speaking exclusively to ABC News via email throughout the weekend from the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, Bankman-Fried said FTX's bankruptcy was the result of several “bad decisions” he made in 2022.

“I never thought 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.

During Thursday's sentencing, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan said Bankman-Fried committed perjury in his testimony and was “often evasive.” The judge also said the defendant's statements never conveyed “a word of remorse for committing the terrible crimes.”

Bankman-Fried said Sunday he felt remorse “of course.”

He said: “I have heard and seen the desperation, frustration and feeling of betrayal among thousands of customers. They deserve to get their full money back at the current price.”

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“It could and should happen in November 2022, and it can and should happen today,” he said. “It is painful to see them waiting day after day.”

He added that he “felt hurt” from co-workers because he “threw what they poured their lives into” and from charities he supports “whose funding was reduced to mere reputational damage.”

“What was lost haunts me every day. I never meant to hurt anyone or take anyone's money. But I was the CEO of FTX, and I was responsible for what happened to the company, and when you're responsible, it doesn't matter why things go wrong. I would give anything to be able to help repair even part of the damage. I'm doing what I can from prison, but it's very frustrating not being able to do more,” he said.

In his statement to the court on Thursday, Bankman-Fried, 32, said that if he or another FTX employee had remained in his position as CEO, clients would have “got their money long ago.” He blamed the company's decision not to restart the FTX exchange, which he said could have created long-term value.

“There has always been plenty of assets to repay customers, lenders and investors in full at current prices or prices at that time,” he said.

In a lawsuit last year, Bankman-Fried accused Sullivan & Cromwell, the law firm representing FTX's new ownership, of working with prosecutors, and said he had a right to see FTX documents the company shared with prosecutors. For this reason, Bankman-Fried indicated on Sunday that he did not receive a fair trial.

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“Fundamentally, SullCrom's role in the prosecution, the one-sided media frenzy they instigated, and the defense's inability to get conclusive evidence at trial botched the entire process,” he said.

A spokesman for Sullivan & Cromwell on Monday referred ABC News to the remarks of Judge Kaplan, who said Bankman-Fried perjured himself on the witness stand and pursued a media strategy of blaming attorneys and the bankruptcy process for investor losses rather than taking responsibility for investor losses. His crimes.

Bankman-Fried also said his defense team intends to appeal later this year based on certain testimony at trial that he said “significantly misstated what actually happened” and the fact that his defense “was not allowed to present crucial evidence or present important witnesses.” He did not provide details, explaining that he did not want to influence his defense team's legal strategy.

After his sentencing on Thursday, Bankman-Fried said he “lost everything I had to lose.”

“I will do everything I can to be there and try to make a positive difference in the world, but I know that won't happen. I can't help while I'm in prison,” he told the court.

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