SBF in criminal jeopardy: How and when he could face justice

In recent days it’s become clear that crypto’s one-time golden boy, Sam Bankman-Fried, did not just disappoint his investors and customers at bankrupt FTX, but that he may have broken the law. There are reports federal prosecutors in Manhattan are preparing criminal charges and that U.S. authorities have been in talks with their counterparts in the Bahamas—where SBF is still holed up—to bring him stateside for questioning.

At this point, it feels inevitable Bankman-Fried will be charged—especially after FTX’s new CEO submitted a court filing decrying a total lack of financial or ethical controls at the company. Even before this, one lawyer told Fortune he believes the disgraced FTX founder violated wire fraud laws, which can come with a 20-year prison term. The question is what happens now: Will a team of FBI agents storm his luxury penthouse to arrest him?

That’s unlikely for a couple reasons, according to Sandra Hanna, an attorney at Miller & Chevalier who specializes in Securities and Exchange Commission investigations and white-collar defense. Hanna told Fortune that since the Bahamas is a sovereign country U.S. law enforcement would have to work with local authorities to arrange any arrest or extradition. She added that defendants in financial crimes cases tend to have significant legal resources and that there is typically an “orderly resolution”—versus cops kicking in doors—in these type of cases.

“What I expect to happen is that he will turn himself in after negotiations with lawyers,” she said. Hanna added that this process may not result in Bankman-Fried getting detained, but could involve him surrendering his passport and wearing a monitoring device. Meanwhile, she says the Justice Department is likely exploring charges against other members of FTX’s crumbled empire, while the SEC conducts investigations against other figures—perhaps accountants and attorneys—who enabled the company’s misdeeds. She adds the whole process will take years.

For now, all of this is speculative. But it feels like a matter of time until Bankman-Fried faces justice for a financial catastrophe that some are calling the crypto version of Bernie Madoff.

Source: Fortune

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