In a story surely destined to become a film before the decade is out, one of the crypto industry’s most promising figureheads is currently on trial in New York for alleged fraud, after being arrested in the Bahamas last December. Samuel Benjamin Bankman-Fried, 31, is the founder and CEO of (now bankrupt) cryptocurrency exchange FTX and associated trading firm Alameda Research. This time last year, he was ranked the 41st richest American in the Forbes 400 and the 60th richest person in the world with a peak net worth of $26bn.
“Mr. Bankman-Fried became a symbol of the industry’s excesses,” write a team of New York Times reporters covering Bankman-Fried’s case in Manhattan. “At the height of its power and influence…, Mr. Bankman-Fried was widely hailed as a leader capable of bringing obscure crypto technology into the mainstream of global finance. He jetted back and forth from FTX’s base in the Bahamas to meetings in Los Angeles and Washington, where he rubbed shoulders with celebrities and politicians, and had his photograph plastered on billboards and magazine covers.” Since 2020 he donated heavily to US political parties, putting his money behind Democratic candidates, and promising to invest $1bn in the 2024 US presidential election. Michael Lewis even wrote a book on him. Today, he’s more likely to be asking his political friends for help.
Bankman-Fried was born on on the campus of Stanford University to professors at Stanford Law School. In 2014 he graduated MIT with a bachelor's degree in physics and a minor in mathematics. He founded cryptocurrency exchange and crypto hedge fund FTX in 2019. By July of 2021 it was the third-largest crypto exchange by volume, with over a million users.
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