Michael Lewis Says Sam Bankman-Fried Genuinely Thinks He Is Innocent: 'He Started As A Gambler…'

The highly anticipated trial of Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, is set to commence on Tuesday.

Bankman-Fried, is facing federal fraud charges. Coinciding with the start of the trial, bestselling author Michael Lewis is releasing a book titled “Going Infinite,” which delves into the rise and fall of the alleged fraudster.

What Happened: Lewis was initially unaware of the enigmatic crypto prodigy when he was asked to evaluate Bankman-Fried’s character. He was astounded by Bankman-Fried’s rapid ascent from having nothing to becoming the richest person under 30, boasting a net worth of over $20 billion.

“It’s owning the casino,” Lewis said. “He started as a gambler and he realized that, you know, building the better casino was actually going to be more valuable.”

During their initial meeting, Lewis discovered that Bankman-Fried’s primary goal was not material wealth but rather maximizing his earnings to support effective altruism—a social movement aimed at addressing global threats such as AI advancement, potential pandemics, and what Bankman-Fried considered to be the undermining of democracy by former President Donald Trump.

“All I knew was I was supposed to evaluate his character. And that 18 months earlier, he had nothing. Now he had $22.5 billion and was the richest person in the world under 30,” Lewis was quoted as saying on 60 Minutes.

According to Lewis, Bankman-Fried even explored the possibility of financially incentivizing Trump not to run for president in 2024, with a purported price tag of $5 billion. While these discussions were ongoing, FTX faced a dramatic downfall.

“They were still having these conversations when FTX blew up,” Lewis said. “So why didn’t it happen? He didn’t have $5 billion anymore.”

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Why It Matters: Lewis asked Bankman-Fried how he could not know that $8 billion of investors’ money was in Alameda Research instead of on FTX. Lewis told 60 Minutes that Bankman-Fried said: “You have to understand that when it went in there, it was a rounding error. That it felt like we had infinity dollars in there and that I wasn’t even thinking about it.’”

“He genuinely thinks he’s innocent,” Lewis added. 

As FTX crumbled, Lewis revisited Bankman-Fried in the Bahamas. Not long after, Bankman-Fried was arrested and extradited to New York to face federal charges. He was indicted on seven counts, including wire fraud, conspiracy to commit securities fraud, and money laundering. Bankman-Fried pleaded not guilty.

Last week, a federal judge said that Bankman-Fried must stay incarcerated throughout his trial proceedings. Judge Lewis A. Kaplan expressed skepticism over the defense’s arguments, stating, “They’re not going in cold here,” Coindesk reported.

Bankman-Fried’s trial begins this week. Lewis reveals that Bankman-Fried maintains his innocence and is even willing to decline a plea deal of six months of house arrest. If convicted, Bankman-Fried faces the possibility of a lengthy prison sentence exceeding 100 years.

Price Action: At the time of writing, Bitcoin BTC/USD was trading at $28,047.06 up 3.88% in the last 24 hours, according to Benzinga Pro.

Photo via Shutterstock.

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Image and article originally from www.benzinga.com. Read the original article here.