INDEPENDENT 2024-03-29 01:06:33


Sam Bankman-Fried is sentenced to 25 years over FTX fraud scheme

A federal judge has sentenced Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of the bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange FTX who was found guilty of lying to investors and customers, to 25 years in prison.

Just four months after a jury found Bankman-Fried, 32, guilty of two counts of fraud and five counts of conspiracy, he faces an order to forfeit $11.2bn.

District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who presided over the sentencing Thursday morning, hit out at Bankman-Fried for putting on a “performance” to make himself seem more likeable.

“When not lying, he was evasive, hair-splitting, trying to get the prosecutors to rephrase questions for him,” Judge Kaplan said. “I’ve been doing this job for close to 30 years. I’ve never seen a performance like that.”

Bankman-Fried, once known as the “King of Crypto”, was a billionaire who appeared on the covers of magazines and brokered lucrative deals with celebrities to promote his company just two years ago.

On Thursday he sat beside his attorneys in a federal courthouse in downtown Manhattan, anxiously hearing his sentencing. He appeared in a beige jumpsuit – a fall from his typical suits.

The whole time Bankman-Fried showed little to no emotion, even while giving a personal statement to Judge Kaplan. The only time the crypto bro showed concern was after Judge Kaplan read the sentence. Bankman-Fried put his hand to his face.

The hearing marked the end of an extensive investigation and media-frenzied trial in the case of the dramatic fall of FTX and Bankman-Fried.

The lengthy hearing included victim testimony and somewhat of an apology from Bankman-Fried.

“At the end of the day, I failed everyone that I care about and everything that I care about, too,” the 32-year-old said, just minutes before he was sentenced.

“My useful life is probably over,” he continued. “It’s been over for a while now.”

Bankman-Fried had acquired mass wealth through his crypto exchange FTX, which at its height was worth $32bn and had a million users. The famously tousled-haired youngster was somewhat of an anomaly in the world of crypto, both for his age and his intention to use his wealth for altruistic purposes.

But that all came crashing down in November 2022 when a CoinDesk report revealed that most of FTX’s assets were held by a quantitative trading company that Bankman-Fried also ran called Alameda Research.

The revelation sent investors and customers scrambling to withdraw their funds, which later exposed an $8bn hole in the company. As quickly as FTX grew, it fell – becoming essentially bankrupt overnight.

At the sentencing, Judge Kaplan scolded Bankman-Fried for having little to no remorse for the victims and failing to take full responsibility for the fall of FTX.

Last year, federal prosecutors used a trove of evidence and former executives from FTX to show a jury that the fall of FTX was no accident. It was the result of Bankman-Fried’s mismanagement and plan to lie to investors, lenders and customers, and use their money to grow his wealth and the company’s.

“On November 15 or 16, [Bankman-Fried] was interviewed by a reporter he knew well who said, ‘You said a lot of stuff about good regulations – was that just PR too?’ He said: ‘Yeah, f*** regulators,’” Judge Kaplan said.

“One of his pithier expressions I think, was ‘I f***** up,’” the judge continued. “Mr Bankman-Fried has the right to plead not guilty and go to trial. Everybody’s got that right and I don’t hold it against him. But I come back to [Caroline Ellison’s] testimony. He knew it was wrong.”

Caroline Ellison was a star witness in Bankman-Fried’s trial. Ms Ellison is the former co-CEO of Alameda Research, a cryptocurrency trading firm that Bankman-Fried co-founded – she is also his ex-girlfriend. Before Thursday’s sentencing, the prosecution asked Judge Kaplan to extend a harsh punishment to Bankman-Fried of at least 40 years in prison.

However, Bankman-Fried’s lawyers said differently, arguing that the former FTX head unintentionally mismanaged the company to its collapse. They argued he should not receive any more than six-and-a-half years in prison at most.

Judge Kaplan said he will issue recommendations to the Bureau of Prisons that Bankman-Fried to serve his sentence in San Francisco, where he can be close to his family, receive medical care and avoid becoming a potential target for violence.

Damian Williams, an attorney for the US Southern District of New York, praised Judge Kaplan’s sentencing in a Thursday statement.

“Today’s sentence will prevent the defendant from ever again committing fraud and is an important message to others who might be tempted to engage in financial crimes that justice will be swift, and the consequences will be severe,” Mr Williams said.

Man arrested over Gogglebox star George Gilbey’s death

A man has been arrested in connection with the death of Gogglebox star George Gilbey.

The reality TV personality’s death was announced on Wednesday, after he reportedly fell from a height while at work.

Officers were called to Shoeburyness in Southend-on-Sea at around 10am, with a spokesperson confirming that the 40-year-old had sustained an injury while working.

The ambulance service and air ambulance attended but despite efforts to save him, Mr Gilbey died at the scene.

In their latest statement, Essex Police said: “As part of our ongoing investigation into the death of a man in Campfield Road, Shoebury, we have arrested a man in their 40s from the Witham area on suspicion of gross negligence manslaughter.

“This is a joint investigation with the Health and Safety Executive and our inquiries are ongoing.”

Mr Gilbey appeared on the popular Channel 4 series alongside his mother Linda McGarry and stepfather Pete McGarry, who died in 2021 aged 71. The trio joined the show, which saw people watch and comment on popular TV shows, in 2013 and participated in eight seasons.

The news was first shared by TV personality Ricci Guarnaccio, who appeared on Celebrity Big Brother in 2014 alongside Gilbey.

“Breaks my heart but George Gilbey you are well and truely [sic] going to be missed my friend,” he wrote on X on Wednesday (27 March).

“Always lit up the room, cared for others & the memories we made I’ll cherish for ever brother. From CBB to speaking to you last week, I’m going to hugely miss you ma boiii! Love you GG.”

Guarnaccio added in another tweet that Gilbey had died in a “workplace accident”. In a tribute, Gilbey’s sister wrote: “Rest in eternal paradise brother. Far too young but god only takes the best.”

The star’s fellow TV personalities also paid tribute, with former EastEnders star Daniella Westbrook writing: “Gone too soon. Good night, my darling friend George. I’m absolutely gutted.”

Celebs Go Dating’s Nadia Essex added she was “heartbroken to hear George” had died, adding: “I will never forget the crazy times we spent together. He will be sorely missed and fondly remembered.”

In a statement, Channel 4 said: “George was part of the Gogglebox family for eight series alongside his mum Linda and step-dad Pete. Our thoughts and deepest condolences are with Linda, and George’s family and friends at this very sad time. The family have asked for privacy.”

Harry urged by Meghan to reunite with William as Charles gives Easter address

The Princess of Wales did not want her husband by her side in the video revealing her cancer diagnosis for personal reasons, according to reports.

Sitting on a bench surrounded by greenery on the grounds of Windsor Castle, Kate cut a lone figure as she told the world that she is undergoing preventative chemotherapy.

As many wondered why Prince William was not in the emotional video, a palace source told People: “It is a message from the princess about her health, and she wanted to personally deliver the message on her own.”

However, Kate did refer to her husband in the two-minute address, as she said: “William and I have been doing everything we can to process and manage this privately for the sake of our young family.”

The palace insider said the Prince of Wales has been “supporting throughout,” adding: “William is extremely proud of his wife for the courage and strength she has shown not just this week but since her surgery in January.”

As a series of health scares rock the royal family, both the King and the Princess of Wales have stepped back from public duties.

The Queen represented King Charles today at the historic Royal Maundy service at Worcester Cathedral, which he missed with “great sadness” as he continues to undergo cancer treatment.

Teenager arrested for attempted murder after London train stabbing

A teenager has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder after a stabbing on a London train.

British Transport Police officers were called to Beckenham Junction railway station shortly before 4pm on Wednesday after receiving reports that two men were fighting.

Footage shared on social media showed a male wearing a black hooded jacket, black trousers and a face mask holding a large blade, while fellow passengers could be heard telling him to stop.

A man in his 20s was taken to hospital with stab injuries and is in a critical but stable condition.

On Thursday, police said a 19-year-old man had been arrested in connection with the incident and a knife recovered.

Superintendent Darren Malpas said: “We understand the concerns of the public following this incident and our detectives have been working tirelessly to investigate. I hope this arrest will bring some reassurance to those on the rail network.

“High-visibility patrols will continue in the area and across the network as a visible reassurance to the travelling public.

“Any witnesses who are yet to get in touch are urged to do so by calling 0800 405040 or texting 61016 quoting reference 397 of 27 March.

Independent reaches deal to take over BuzzFeed in the UK

The company behind the Independent will take over BuzzFeed and the HuffPost in the UK as part of a deal which brings together several major online brands.

Independent Digital News and Media said on Thursday that it had reached an agreement with US-based BuzzFeed Inc which will create a “digital supergroup.”

The group will be managed by the Independent and staff from BuzzFeed UK, HuffPost and Tasty UK will move over to the online news publication.

BuzzFeed and the other platforms will continue to operate as separate websites after the deal, the companies said.

“The Independent’s growth and outstanding success story over the last decade has been built on bold moves, and our partnership with BuzzFeed represents a new leap forward for our business,” said Independent chief executive Christian Broughton.

The two brands were both once challengers to the traditional media landscape, though appeared at very different times.

The Independent started printing in 1986, and just years later had overtaken the circulation of more established competitors such as the Times. It built its appeal particularly with younger voters.

But even before the internet upended the print news market, the newspaper had started to lose ground amid a broadsheet pricing war.

By 2016, the online age had come and the Independent printed its last ever paper copy.

This was 10 years after BuzzFeed was founded in the US. The company was always online-only and just like the Independent appealed to a younger audience.

Last year, it announced a plan to shut down its news operations and instead weave its news coverage into the Huffington Post, which it bought in 2020.

Richard Alan Reid, from BuzzFeed, said: “The synergies between our companies have been clear from day one, and we know this partnership will unlock new business, drive growth and ultimately take both companies’ brands to the next level in the UK and Ireland.”

It’s time to renationalise our failing water industry

Ever since the Conservative manifesto for the 1987 general election disingenuously promised to “return to the public the Water Authorities” – in other words, privatise the ones in England and Wales – there has been an on-off national debate about whether the supply of water, sewerage and associated services should, in fact, be owned and controlled by the state or in the hands of free enterprise. Soon, however, the issue, at least in the case of Thames Water, will be resolved not by a popular vote but through commercial pressures.

Thames Water, to put it bluntly, is going bust and will run out of money by May 2025. Given that its wide range of well-resourced shareholders, including major pension funds, are warning that the business is now uninvestible, it seems inevitable that Thames Water will before much longer pass into a special administrative regime, and, in effect, be nationalised. The alternative, which is that the taps run dry and the loos no longer flush in the capital of the United Kingdom is rightly an unthinkable consequence of subjecting what is, at base, a public service to the worst emanations of capitalism.

Thames Water has many problems, not all of them of its own making. Britain’s Victorian sewers and water pipes are crumbling, inadequate, prone to leaks and sewage dumps, and expensive to replace. The infrastructure was neglected under many decades of municipal ownership long before it was floated on the stock market in the exciting though transient era of mass share ownership promulgated by Margaret Thatcher. The regulators have also failed to be tough enough over water purity and pollution, to an unbelievable extent.

What are the Tories’ chances of winning the London mayoral election?

Local and mayoral elections on 2 May, combined with yet another parliamentary by-election in Blackpool South, will provide the best possible picture of the standing of the parties – in most of England and Wales, at least.

Millions of real votes in ballot boxes will either confirm or confound the opinion polls. It will be another important test of Rishi Sunak’s leadership; there is speculation that a truly disastrous result for his party might trigger a vote of confidence in him, with the possible consequence that he’d call an immediate general election and take his case to the British people as early as June. Of the many discouraging results the Conservatives seem to be headed for, perhaps the worst of all will be in London. It is fair to say that, even in a generally difficult period for the Tories, London stands out as an object lesson in how not to do politics…